A third Republican filed for the House District 79 seat held by Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell, who is termed-out and running for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018.
Retired Coast Guard JAG officer Spencer Roach announced his candidacy for the Lee County seat on Tuesday, joining Peter Cuderman and Chauncey Solinger in the Republican Primary.
Also running are Democrat Mark Lipton and no-party candidate William Fredrick Caleb Earp.
Roach will kick off his campaign next week with a fundraiser in North Fort Myers that features plenty of big name Republicans on the host committee, including U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, state Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Kathleen Passidomo as well as Caldwell and his wife, Yvonne Caldwell.
In his announcement, Roach said he was a self-styled “10th Amendment Conservative,” which he said means the “state Legislature should stand as a bulwark against an increasingly intrusive federal government.”
“Whether it’s job-killing regulations, mandating what type of health care we must purchase, or policies impacting local education, the federal government needs to be checked,” the North Fort Myers Republican said in a press release.
“District 79 is unique – it is the most diverse district in the region, with a mix of urban and rural areas, and it doesn’t include a single incorporated city.
“Parts of this district have been hit disproportionately hard by the opioid crisis and Hurricane Irma – all at a time when their economic recovery from the Great Recession was lagging behind other parts of the county. I hope to be a strong voice for them in Tallahassee.”
In addition to his background as a JAG, Roach is an alumnus of Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Miami. He has volunteered for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and currently serves as a Guardian ad Litem for the 20th Judicial Circuit.
He said DCF reform is one of his top priorities if elected.
Roach doesn’t have much catching up to do in the primary race as both of his opponents also filed this month.
HD 79 covers the communities of Alva, Buckingham, Lehigh Acres, Fort Myers Shores, North Fort Myers, and Olga. It has a significant Republican lean, though it’s not as much of a sure thing as the districts it borders.
Caldwell has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012. He went unopposed in the 2012 contest, and again in the 2014 cycle due to paperwork slipup by Democrat Larry Aguilar.
In the 2016 cycle, Caldwell eked out a majority of the vote in a three-way race against Democrat John Scott and no-party candidate Matt Miller. Lipton took 38 percent of the vote and Miller took a 11 percent.
Roach’s fundraiser invite is below.