Nancy Watkins, the South Tampa certified public accountant who has been campaign treasurer for hundreds of local and national Republicans for more than 25 years, won’t run for the Florida House District 60 seat being vacated this fall by Dana Young.
Watkins, who has never run for public office, was said to be seriously considering running for the seat that encompasses South Tampa, northwest Hillsborough County, and a slice of South Hillsborough.
“I am truly grateful for the incredible amount of encouragement I’ve received recently to consider running for the soon-to-be-open State House District 60 seat,” Watkins said in a statement Friday afternoon. “As for me, due to my many professional commitments already made for 2016, I have decided this is not the right time, for me or my family, to pursue elective politics. I believe the best way I can contribute today to the health of our democracy is to continue helping others properly account for, and comply with, the laws that govern campaigns and politics; to restore the trust and renew the faith people have in our state.”
Watkins was recently named to INFLUENCE magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in Florida. She began her career working for Republicans in the late 1980s when then-Rep. Connie Mack hired the her and her husband Robert’s accounting firm. They had formed it in 1980 to handle accounting for his nonprofit foundation. Mack then hired her to handle the accounting for his successful 1988 Republican Senate bid.
She told Florida Trend magazine in 2009 that the only time she contemplated running for office was against former Tampa Democratic Congressman Sam Gibbons in 1994.
House District 60 covers most of South Tampa through to the western part of Ruskin.
Republican Jackie Toledo, who lost in a bid for Tampa City Council a year ago, is the only declared candidate in the HD 60 race to date. No Democrat has stepped up to enter the race, though Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen has said he is considering a run for the seat.
Young announced last month that she is vacating the seat to be run in state Senate 18 seat that was created by the Florida Legislature.