Former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III on Tuesday endorsed Tommy Gregory in the race for House District 73.
“Tommy Gregory is a patriot and a proven leader,” Mack said. “His military experience has effectively prepared him to enter this new sphere of public service, and there’s no question in my mind that he will be an outstanding and effective legislator. I wholeheartedly endorse him and urge all District 73 voters to support him.”
Mack’s endorsement follows nods from former Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube, Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight, Zephyrhills Rep. Danny Burgess, former state Sen. Lisa Carlton and Steve Vernon, the second-place finisher in the 2016 HD 73 Republican Primary.
“It is an honor to have Senator Mack’s support,” said Gregory. “He has long been one of Florida’s most respected leaders, and his life has been a model of public service. I look forward to following his example and to working with him and other like-minded public servants to make the Sunshine State an even better place to live.”
Gregory is running against Melissa Howard in the Republican Primary for the seat, which covers parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties. HD 73 is open due to current Republican Rep. Joe Gruters’ decision to run for the Senate seat currently held by Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube. Gruters is Howard’s campaign treasurer.
Democrat Liv Coleman is also running for the seat, though Gruters’ replacement is likely to come out of the Republican Primary — GOP voters make up nearly half of the HD 73 electorate compared to a 25 percent share for Democrats.
Both Gregory and Howard are off to a fast start in the money race, though Gregory holds the lead with $132,220 banked, including $56,000 in candidate loans. Howard has $123,900 banked including $100,000 in candidate loans.
The primary election is Aug. 28.