Will Denise Grimsley run again?

grimsley, denise

The most fun places for political junkies are the diners and coffee shops of small towns where lots of good rumors and speculation seem to be served up along with the eggs and pancakes.

And the most speculation recently has been over state Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, and her 2016 re-election campaign in Senate District 21. Rumors ask is she thinking of leaving?

Grimsley has no trouble in funding her re-election campaign. She had a campaign war chest of $338,291 at the end of October. And like Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican from Lakeland in the adjacent Senate District 15, she has no opponents.

Not only that, but many Senate observers had said they feel she is being groomed to become chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. It was the post she held in her final two years in the House when her Senate counterpart was the tough formidable Sen. JD Alexander. She held her own and got concessions to the House’s position on many money matters.

So why the rumors of her thinking about not running again?

A health care professional, whose expertise has been sought by many members of the Florida Legislature, Grimsley is also the administrator for two hospitals, Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center Lake Placid and Florida Hospital Wauchula.

In addition, the trial on redrawing Florida’s Senate districts is just underway. Currently, Grimsley’s District 21 includes parts of Polk, Highlands, Martin, Osceola and St. Lucie counties and all of Okeechobee County. It is unlikely a largely rural district like 21 would wind up with fewer counties than Grimsley currently has, because of the relatively sparse populations.

With the two medical facilities to manage and a large Senate district she may not have the time she needs to do both, the rumor mill claims.

Grimsley has made no public announcement. Her campaign treasury, in fact, is growing.

But some politicos in Tallahassee have mentioned the rumor as well.

At least one Florida House member has let it be known he is interested should the post be vacant and another has been mentioned … if she does not run.

State Rep. Cary Pigman, an Avon Park Republican, is known to be interested in Grimsley’s seat if it is vacant.

Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican, has also been mentioned, especially by Polk County ranchers and citrus industry members. Albritton is a former chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission.

If Grimsley doesn’t run and rumors of succession are true, there could be a Republican Primary for the district seat.

Democrats? Sorry, that would take an active party structure.

Bill Rufty

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

One comment

  • R. Bruce Anderson

    December 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    I, for one, hope she does stay – she has been an expert voice in an area critical to Florida. If she does not run again, Ben Albritton is the best choice. Experienced, smart as can be, and an indefatigable battler for agriculture.

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