Republican Nick DiCeglie, who is running to replace termed-out Rep. Larry Ahern in Pinellas-based HD 66, picked up an endorsement from former House Speaker Will Weatherford Tuesday.
“I’m proud to endorse Nick DiCeglie in his campaign for the Florida House. He has a great story to tell – from his humble childhood, helping his parents grow their family business, to being a successful small business owner himself,” Weatherford said.
When it comes to creating jobs for Florida families, he truly understands pro-business policies work and overregulation and red tape do not. I look forward to seeing the great things he will continue to do for his community as a member of the Florida House.”
The HD 66 Republican primary pits DiCeglie against Berny Jacques, an attorney at the St. Petersburg law firm of Berkowitz and Myer who previously served as an assistant state attorney in Pinellas County. The district covers part of Pinellas, including Clearwater, Belleair, Indian Shores and Indian Rocks Beach, where DiCeglie lives.
Since entering the race, DiCeglie has taken some momentum from Jacques. Most notably, Seminole Vice Mayor Chris Burke endorsed DiCeglie last month, tacitly retracting his endorsement of Jacques over the summer.
Still, Weatherford’s endorsement is by far the biggest to-date for either of the two Republicans.
“I’m honored to have the support of Speaker Weatherford. He is a principled conservative that knows how to get things done. His work as Speaker and in the private sector has made our state a better place to live, work and raise a family and I look forward to the opportunity to follow his example of effective service and leadership,” DiCeglie said.
In addition to serving as the current chair of the Pinellas County Republican Party, DiCeglie runs solid waste collection business Solar Sanitation.
He has also chaired the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce for two terms, was a gubernatorial appointee to the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, and was a member of the Indian Rocks Beach Planning and Zoning Board for six years.
Jacques was the first-in candidate, but after a stellar opening month where he raised nearly $30,000 for his campaign, he posted middling campaign reports until DiCeglie filed.
For October, DiCeglie posted more than $30,000 for his campaign for the second month in a row, while Jacques tacked on a combined $26,000 through his campaign and committee accounts, putting him past the $100,000 mark in total fundraising.
Though DiCeglie is gaining ground in the money race, his $58,000 on-hand total trails Jacques’ $84,000 cash on hand – $57,000 in his campaign account and $27,000 in his committee, Protect Pinellas.
Also running for the seat is Reform Party candidate Paul Anthony Bachmann, who filed in August. He hasn’t uploaded his October numbers yet, though his first two months on the trail didn’t bring any contributions or expenditures.