The Florida Retail Federation announced Friday that it was backing Destin Republican Rep. Mel Ponder’s re-election bid in Okaloosa County’s House District 4.
“Representative Ponder is a successful small business owner and fought on behalf of the thousands of other small business owners throughout Florida during his first term in the House,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “His efforts to protect Floridians and fellow small business owners by supporting pro-business legislation are issues we look forward to him continuing to work on in his return to the Florida House.”
Ponder runs a business that trains local business leaders and individuals, as well as ministers and others of faith to make a difference in their communities. He also works as a real estate agent.
The FRF endorsement comes the same week that Ponder made the Florida Realtor’s list of lawmakers it’s backing in the 2018 cycle.
Ponder is currently in his first term representing HD 4, which covers all but the northern reaches of Okaloosa County. He faces Valparaiso Democrat Rebecca Koelzer in the Nov. 6 general election.
As of July 6, Ponder was far ahead in fundraising, with more than $105,000 raised and nearly $65,000 in the bank for his re-election campaign. Koelzer, who filed in just ahead of the qualifying deadline, has raised $70 and kicked in another $2,000 via candidate loans.
HD 4 is a safe Republican seat. Ponder’s only opponent in 2016 was write-in candidate Christopher Eugene Schwantz, who holds the distinction of being the only candidate to compete against the Republican nominee in the district since it was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections.
The seat also voted plus-44 for President Donald Trump two years ago.