Open house seats continue to draw candidates

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Candidates continue to line up to run in November for open state House seats in North Florida and Southwest Florida.

Lake City Democrat Evan Tharpe Leslie opened a campaign account this week to become the first Democrat in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City, in House District 10.

Three Republicans and an unaffiliated candidate also have opened accounts to run in the district, which includes Baker, Columbia, Hamilton, Suwannee and part of Alachua counties.

In Southwest Florida, Sarasota Republican Tommy Gregory has opened an account to run in House District 73, which includes parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties. Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, recently announced that he will run for a Senate seat this year instead of seeking another term in the House. Also in the District 73 race is Sarasota Democrat Liv Coleman.

Meanwhile, North Fort Myers Republican Peter Cuderman last week became the fifth candidate running for an open seat in Lee County’s House District 79.

Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, cannot run again for the seat because of term limits and is vying to become state agriculture commissioner. Along with Cuderman, two other Republicans, a Democrat and an unaffiliated candidate have opened accounts for the District 79 race.