Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala could soon have a challenger in his House District 67 re-election campaign
Sources close to House Victory and incoming Democratic leader Kionne McGhee confirmed Tuesday that the party is actively recruiting Becca Teider to run against Latvala in the fall.
Tieder is part of a duo who travel to college campuses to speak about sexual assault awareness, prevention and sexual empowerment.
As a speaker, Tieder has visited more than 400 college campuses, some military installations, and even the White House as part of a roundtable on college sexual assault held by former Vice President Joe Biden.
In an interview with Florida Politics, the Clearwater native said she hasn’t decided whether she will enter the race, but that she’s “definitely giving it some serious consideration.” She said she’ll make the call within the next few weeks.
“If I run, it’s because I’m the best candidate for the seat. I’m not doing this for me – I have a great life,” she said. “But if I feel like I can make a difference, I will run and I will win.”
One of the obstacles remaining for the mother of two is whether being in Tallahassee for long stretches would put too much of a strain on her children, family and business.
As a legislator, it’s possible she’d travel less than she does now – some years she has spent up to 150 days travelling and this week alone she’s already crossed the country to give talks at Penn State University and the University of Southern California.
Running for the state Legislature wasn’t always part of Tieder’s plans. Until recently, she was considering a run for Pinellas County School Board in 2020, but after attending several board meetings she felt like the current crop of elected officials were well suited for their jobs.
What did resonate with her were members’ complaints of overreach from Tallahassee, including a shift toward increased funding for charter schools.
“Charter schools serve a purpose, but not as a replacement for public schools,” she said, adding that she saw it as wrong to “give away so much of what feels like our – the public’s – responsibility.”
Tieder’s possible candidacy also seems to telegraph that Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who recently resigned from the Senate due to allegations of sexual harassment, will be at the forefront of a campaign between her and Chris Latvala, Jack’s son.
Her view of the longtime state Senator has some nuance, but she didn’t deny the topic would be part of her run if she enters the race.
“Jack Latvala has – as a legislator – done some very good things for Pinellas County, but unfortunately his legacy is forever changed,” she said. “Given my background, I always side with the survivors.”
Tieder said she didn’t see District 67’s Republican advantage – the seat voted plus-4 for Donald Trump – as particularly daunting. If anything, she said Trump’s election could be “a good thing, in the long run” if enough Democrats are motivated to turn out in 2018.
“Either that, or the world could implode,” she said.
Latvala has held the District 67 seat for two terms. He won election in 2014 with a 6-point win over Democrat Steve Sarnoff, and in 2016 he defeated Democrat David Vogel by 17 points.
Asked about the prospect of facing a challenger in the 2018 cycle, Latvala issued the following statement:
“It is a great honor to serve House District 67. Pinellas County has a long history of independent thinking Republicans. I am a proud Conservative who is an independent thinker and votes in line with the district on things like guns, environmental issues, and matters of equality. I am taking this election cycle very seriously and since session has ended my team has knocked on over 3,000 doors and we have ramped up our fundraising efforts. We will not be outworked.”
Latvala has not yet posted his March campaign finance report, though through the end of February he had raised $43,250 for his re-election campaign and had about $19,000 on hand.