St. Petersburg-based House Democrat Dwight Dudley confirmed recently what has been common knowledge the past month or so: He has no intention of challenging Jeff Brandes in the state Senate District 22 seat this year.
Dudley said if last year’s redistricting of the Senate districts had turned out differently, he may have chosen to run, but it simply didn’t happen. “If there was a seriously useful well-drawn seat, but it didn’t turn out that way,” he said. “I’m certainly content to continue to represent the people where I’m from.”
He was first elected to the House in 2012 in an extremely spirited battle against Republican Frank Farkas. He withstood a challenge to his Pinellas County HD 68 seat in 2014 against Republican Billy Young, and to date in 2016 has yet to encounter a GOP challenger (He’s raised $36,212 to date).
Dudley may be best known in his four years in the House for his relentless advocacy for the expansion of solar power in the state, and his unbridled criticism of the public utilities.
He’s thrilled to have been a co-sponsor of CS/HJR 193, a constitutional amendment on the Aug. 30 ballot that would exempt solar power equipment on homes from being counted toward a house’s value for property tax purposes. It also would exempt from taxation solar energy devices on commercial and industrial properties.
Dudley calls the bill “the really beautiful, wonderful Nirvana” piece of legislation, as opposed to the “lying, cheating, deceptive garbage” constitutional amendment by the group Consumers for Smart Solar, a measure being pushed by the public utilities that at times he’s been at war with since getting to Tallahassee.
Regarding the 2016 legislative session that’s now in the books, Dudley is proud of the “many bad things” that he feels he had a role in helping to kill, such as the gun proposals like open carry and campus carry, both of which went down to defeat.
“I was able to play a pretty decent role in having the opportunity to speak out, at Civil Justice and Judiciary (committees) all along the way to bring attention to these dangerous ideas, that extreme ideology ,” he said.
He also was a critical voice against a bill that would have set up a state permitting process for fracking in Florida.
“Why are we even allowing these things to come to waste valuable time in our state, a state that has so many issues that need to be address?” he said. “The great thing is that I’m there to fight against the bad things.”
Last week the progressive advocacy group Progress Florida named Dudley as one of their 18 “Champions of Florida’s Middle Class,” an appellation he is proud to have earned.
“There’s a perpetual amount of work that needs to be done in the watchdog fashion to try to protect taxpayers and consumers,” he said. “Is there any work to do? Yeah, there’s a ton of it. We just keep seeing greater opportunities for folks who may not need it quite as much as the people in our communities that are struggling.”