James Grant says ‘thanks, but no thanks’ on Jack Latvala’s Senate seat – Florida Politics

James Grant says ‘thanks, but no thanks’ on Jack Latvala’s Senate seat

Thanks, but no thanks.

Citing unfinished business in the Florida House, state Rep. James Grant is dismissing any talk of running for the Senate seat vacated this week by Jack Latvala, who stepped down after facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

Grant was responding to a tweet from Peter Schorsch, who was, in turn, answering speculation from conservative commentator Chris Ingram floating several names to replace Latvala.

“Having to go through three ‘elections’ in one year just to get back into the House and working on priorities, I’m happy where I am and focused on making those policy priorities a reality,” Grant, a Tampa Republican, said in a tweet Thursday. “And yes, the growth and trajectory of CareSync keeps me more than busy.”

For now, Grant will be staying put in House District 64, which covers parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, having won a special election in April 2015. He previously served in the House from 2010 to 2014. However, after easily winning re-election, disputes in the voting process forced the House to reject the results, and a special election was called — which Grant won with nearly 99 percent of the vote.

In 2010, Grant co-founded the company now known as CareSync, an award-winning health care technology and services company which gives patients with chronic diseases more access and control of their health records.

Grant’s name was being floated as a possible replacement for Latvala, who ended his three-decade elective career after the release of a shocking Special Master report outlining several sexually-based interactions with female Senate staff and lobbyists. The report, from retired Judge Ronald Swanson, hinted at a quid pro quo and possible criminal charges, which led to the Clearwater Republican’s resignation instead of facing a Senate Rules Committee hearing set for Jan. 11.

While Gov. Rick Scott has not yet called for a special election in Senate District 16, which covers Pinellas and Pasco counties, former four-term state Rep. Ed Hooper — a Clearwater Republican who has been campaigning for the seat for months — still is the front-runner in the race.

“I don’t know if there’s time to do that,” Hooper told the Tampa Bay Times Thursday about the chances of a special electionadding he would enter the special election if Scott calls for one.

Latvala was term-limited from running again, and had recently launched a campaign for Governor.

It’s highly unlikely a special election will come before the 2018 Legislative Session, which starts Jan. 9, meaning the district will be without representation during the 60-day work period.

Another possible scenario is Scott will not call a special election for SD 16, and the regular cycle for 2018 — with Hooper remaining the favorite — will proceed as planned.

On the Democratic side, former state Rep. Amanda Murphy of New Port Richey has been rumored to be a potential candidate. Murphy was first elected in October 2013 for Pasco County’s HD 36, serving as Democratic Deputy Whip from 2014 through 2016. Last year, Republican Amber Mariano, the 21-year-old daughter of Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano, defeated Murphy by a single point, 50.5 to 49.5 percent, to take the seat.

As for Grant’s political future, he has already drawn a Republican primary challenge for his HD 64 re-election bid, from Terrance “Terry” Power of Oldsmar, a 59-year-old certified financial planner.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range included covering news, local government and nightclub reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for an online metaphysical website among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013 and lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul.
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