MaryLynn Magar won’t challenge Gayle Harrell, Belinda Keiser in SD 25

MaryLynn Magar

Tequesta Republican Rep. MaryLynn Magar said Wednesday that she won’t enter the special election to replace exiting Senate President Joe Negron and will instead to stay put in the Florida House.

“After much prayer and consultation with my family, I have decided to seek a fourth and final term in the Florida House of Representatives,” Magar said. “Serving the residents of District 82 in the Florida House has been the honor of a lifetime for me, and I want to conclude my service there with a strong finish. While the timing of President Negron’s retirement from the Florida Senate presented an opportunity, I’ve never wanted to take a step to further my political career at the expense of serving the people who have put their confidence in me as their representative. I look forward to working hard to continue earning their trust this year.

“There is more work to be done, and I believe my experience and good working relationship with incoming Speaker Oliva put me in an exceptional position to continue reaching our goals of a stronger economy, more jobs, increased public safety, and protections for our precious natural resources. I look forward to working with him and the rest of the House leadership team to keep Florida on the path to continued prosperity.”

Magar was the only other major candidate thought to have her sights set on Senate District 25, and with her announcement, it looks like the special Republican Primary will be a two-way race between Stuart Republican Rep. Gayle Harrell and Keiser University Vice-Chancellor Belinda Keiser.

It could be an ugly battle given Keiser’s past donations to Democrats, something unlikely to go ignored in the Republican-leaning district. The winner of that contest will likely face Democrat Rob Levy in the special general election, held concurrently with the 2018 midterm election on Nov. 6.

Both Harrell and Levy had already filed run for the seat in 2020 and were quick to announce their switch to the special election when Negron announced he would leave the Senate two years early. Keiser filed Tuesday, an interesting development given she lives in Broward County.

SD 25 covers St. Lucie and Martin counties, along with a portion of Palm Beach County. The seat voted plus-12 for Donald Trump in 2016, while Negron cruised by Democrat Bruno Moore with 65 percent of the vote.

Republicans hold a moderately larger share of district’s electorate than Democrats, 38 percent to 35 percent, and the district historically has been reflective of that gap. It voted plus-3 for Barack Obama in 2008 and plus-3 for Mitt Romney in 2012. That same year, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson carried SD 25 by 10 points.

Harrell starts with about $120,000 in her campaign account, including $100,000 loan. Levy also kicked off his bid with a $100,000 loan, but he’s already burned about $26,000, leaving him with about $82,000 in the bank.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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