Land O’ Lakes Republican Ardian Zika announced Monday that Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano and Sheriff Chris Nocco have endorsed his campaign to succeed House Speaker Richard Corcoran in House District 37.
“Ardian Zika left a civil war-torn country to seek freedom and opportunity in the United States. I’ve represented the people of Pasco County, as their Tax Collector, as their State Senator and as their State Representative and I know what it takes to stand up and fight hard for the little guy and gal,” Fasano said. “I believe Ardian Zika has what it takes to fight hard for the residents of Pasco in our state capitol. Ardian’s integrity, character and faith guide his life and I know he will fight hard for us and represent us well as our State Representative.”
Nocco’s endorsement also touched on Zika’s roots. The Pasco businessman immigrated to the United States from Kosovo in 1997, when the now-independent nation was steeped in conflict.
“Ardian Zika has seen firsthand what happens when people are not safe and secure in their own homes and communities. Ardian fled a country torn by terror and fear, to seek hope and opportunity in the United States,” Nocco said. “Ardian’s path to freedom hasn’t been easy, but his dedication and perseverance led him to earn a degree, become a community banker and operate his own small business. Ardian’s commitment to his family and to his community shines through. His dedication to seeing each and every person reach their goals is evident. This election, Ardian Zika has my strong support and I hope he can count on your support too.”
Zika, who runs Guardian Street, said he was “humbled” in a statement accepting the endorsements from Fasano and Nocco.
“Both of these men have given selflessly to serve Pasco County and make our community a better place to live and work. I am deeply grateful for their commitment to our community and to each and every resident in Pasco County. I am honored to have received their joint endorsement and am truly appreciative of their support and their endorsement this election,” Zika said.
Past endorsements for Zika’s campaign have come in from St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and former House Speaker Will Weatherford. Zika’s campaign announced last week that it had gathered enough signatures to make the HD 37 ballot by petition.
He faces Ryan Patrick Boney, Bill Gunter and Elle Rudisill in the Republican Primary, while Tammy Garcia and Denise Mestanza-Taylor are competing for the Democratic nomination.
Through the end of March, he was far ahead of his competition in fundraising with $166,578 raised and $155,117 in the bank. Rudisill had next-best fundraising total, with $13,628 raised and $13,384 on hand.
HD 37 covers the majority of inland Pasco County, including the communities of Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, Heritage Pines, Shady Hills, Meadow Oaks and Moon Lake.
The electorate is about 43 percent Republican, and 29 percent Democrat with 24 percent belonging to no party. Corcoran hasn’t faced a major-party challenger in the Republican stronghold since it was redrawn in 2012.