One of the most competitive Republican primaries in Tampa Bay is the race for the House District 66 seat being vacated by Seminole Republican Larry Ahern.
Pinellas GOP Chairman Nick DiCeglie is taking on St. Petersburg attorney Berny Jacques. Jacques entered the race early last year, and has raised a total of $133,000 for his bid – $91,354 in his own campaign coffers, and an additional $42,000 in his PAC, Protect Pinellas.
However, for most of 2017 he was the only man running in the race. As the first-in candidate he raised nearly $30,000 for his campaign in its opening month, but followed that early success with middling campaign reports until his opponent filed. DiCeglie has outraised Jacques since entering the race, but Jacques’ best fundraising report since his first came after DiCeglie entered.
DiCeglie, who runs Clearwater-based trash removal and recycling company Solar Sanitation, entered the race late last summer and has now raised $72,714 after taking in 8,990 in December. The sum of his four campaign finance reports show him with $59,427 on hand at the start of year.
Jacques raised $4,420 for his campaign account in December and added no contributions to his political committee. He finished the year with $106,302 cash on hand.
In addition to making strides on the campaign finance front, DiCeglie has been able to pull in some major endorsements for his campaign, including a nod from former House Speaker Will Weatherford and Seminole Vice Mayor Chris Burke, who had endorsed Jacques before pulling an about face and throwing his support behind DiCeglie.
A Democrat, Pinellas educator Alex Heeren, entered the contest earlier this week, but HD 66 is reliably Republican with about 10,000 more registered GOP voters than registered Democrats. Ahern has comfortably won each of his three elections in the district and the district’s next representative will more than likely come down to the Jacques v. DiCeglie primary.
Reform Party candidate Paul Anthony Bachmann is also in the contest. He did not bring in any money in December, and has only raised $345 to date.