GOP group names Ardian Zika an up-and-comer to watch - Florida Politics

GOP group names Ardian Zika an up-and-comer to watch

Ardian Zika

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a national group that works to elect GOP candidates to state legislatures, recently recognized Land O’ Lakes Republican Ardian Zika in its “18 in ’18 Races to Watch” List.

Zika, a first-time candidate for public office, is the Republican nominee in House District 37. The Pasco County-based seat is currently held by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

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“Republicans at the state level would not be reaching historical highs, without the growing diversity of our party, and candidates like Ardian Zika. Ardian represents the best from our Future Majority Project (FMP) and Right Women, Right Now (RWRN) initiatives,” said RSLC president Matt Walter. “The RSLC has invested over $20 million in these initiatives since 2011, electing 500 new female and 100 new diverse office holders in the process.”

Zika was the only Florida candidate recognized in RLSC’s list. Its decision to recognize Zika was based on the Kosovan immigrant “[pulling] himself up by the bootstraps and [emerging] as an example of an American Dream success story.”

HD 37 is a safe Republican seat that covers the majority of inland Pasco County, including Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, Heritage Pines, Shady Hills, Meadow Oaks and Moon Lake. Zika easily secured the GOP nomination in the August primary for the seat and now faces Democratic nominee Tammy Garcia, also of Land O’ Lakes, in the general election.

In addition to the district’s partisan lean favoring Zika, he has proved to be a prolific fundraiser.

As of Oct. 12, he had raised more $260,000 in hard money for his campaign and had $80,000 left to spend. Garcia, meanwhile, has raised about $16,500 and has a little over $8,000 in the bank.

Zika has also landed endorsements from a long list of GOP politicians, including nods from St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano and Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

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