J.D. Alexander opts out of Senate race - Florida Politics

J.D. Alexander opts out of Senate race

JD Alexander, a Lake Wales Republican who wielded great influence in the Florida Legislature for four years in the Florida House and 10 years in the Senate, said he has decided not to run for his old Senate seat again.

But he hasn’t endorsed anyone in that race yet.

“ A part of me wanted to run but I sat down on the July the Fourth week and decided the personal costs are too high for my family and business,” he said Sunday.

During his time in the Senate, Alexander, as head of the Senate Appropriations Committee basically created Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland over the initial objections of University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft and Tampa area senators.

His political tenaciousness has not let up since he left office in  2012.

He recently was credited by Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey with traveling to Tallahassee this year and getting funding for the Polk State College campus in Lake Wales restored. He was also praised for keeping a close eye on issues affecting  Polk County, particularly in the southern portion, which was part of his old district. Despite not running for the office again, it is likely Alexander will still have influence in some Senate matters.

When he reached term limits for his Senate District 26 seat, he was replaced by Denise Grimsley who had chaired the House Appropriations Committee at the time he headed the Senate committee.

Grimsley is now running for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, leaving the seat for Senate District 26 vacant in the 2018 elections.

Alexander has endorsed Grimsley for the Cabinet post. His cousin former Rep. Baxter Troutman, a Winter Haven Republican, also has opened a campaign for the post. Both men are grandsons of the late citrus magnate and one time gubernatorial candidate Ben Hill Griffin Jr. and have clashed over politics and business interests in the past.

He also has endorsed current Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam who is running for governor next year.

But so far Alexander has not endorsed in the Senate race. Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican is the only one to have officially announced although at least one other Republican House member is rumored to be considering it.

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”
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