As if we should be surprised, state Sen. Jack Latvala on Friday opened a new campaign account and filed paperwork with the state’s Division of Elections to run for Florida governor.
“My papers were filed by 5-year-old Rays fan Cooper Bishop!” the newly minted candidate tweeted shortly after noon, including a picture of a smiling boy wearing a Tampa Bay Rays uniform holding Latvala’s paperwork.
Latvala still plans to make an official announcement about his 2018 plans next Wednesday. Still, these filings are necessary first steps under Florida law for him to launch a gubernatorial campaign.
The Clearwater Republican, who chairs the Senate’s influential Appropriations Committee, had said he would announce his future political plans on Aug. 16. He’s term-limited in his Senate District 16 seat next year; Latvala was previously in the Senate 1994-2002.
“As a small-business owner and public servant, I have a track record of getting things done and solving problems,” Latvala has said. “One thing you can always expect from me too is when I give you my word, I will keep it.”
The announcement was certainly expected. A clear signal of a gubernatorial run came when FloridaPolitics.com reported that Latvala’s “Florida Leadership Committee” retained prominent GOP ad maker Fred Davis.
Last week, Latvala sharply criticized House Speaker Richard Corcoran, particularly over the House’s efforts to overhaul VISIT Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm, say9ing it was “all about making political points, all about trying to make headlines, trying to raise your name identification, whatever.”
Corcoran defended the legislation as an effort to bring “more transparency and accountability” to the marketing program.
Although Latvala is a fixture in Tampa Bay politics, he has never run a statewide race, and first must overcome a relative lack of name recognition throughout Florida.
Moreover, Latvala’s “Florida Leadership Committee,” has about $3.85 million on hand for the same period. But since he wasn’t actively running for office in 2018, Latvala had no on-hand campaign funds.
The only major Republican now officially running for governor is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Between his campaign account and fundraising committee “Florida Grown,” Putnam finished July with a little under $12 million on hand.
Also considering a gubernatorial run are Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has a supporting committee that raised nearly $1.3 million through the end of July.
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post, with permission.