Republican Tommy Gregory announced Thursday that former Manatee Sherriff Brad Steube has endorsed his campaign to replace Rep. Joe Gruters in House District 73.
“Tommy Gregory’s character and values will make him a very effective legislator,” Steube said. “His military career demonstrates his commitment to public service, and I believe he will bring the same determination and skill to the Florida House. I am pleased to endorse him and urge all District 73 voters to support him.”
Steube was Manatee County sheriff from 2007 through 2016. He joins current Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight in endorsing Gregory, a Sarasota attorney. He has also been endorsed by former state Sen. Lisa Carlton and Steve Vernon, the second-place finisher in the 2016 HD 73 Republican Primary.
“Sheriff Steube really modeled community leadership during his time in office,” said Gregory. “I appreciate the example he set, and I’m honored to have his support. I look forward to working with him and other local leaders to find policy solutions that will help us overcome our area’s challenges and make the most of our opportunities.”
Gregory faces Melissa Howard in the Republican Primary race. The winner of that contest has the best odds to replace Gruters in the Republican stronghold.
HD 73 is open due to Gruters’ decision to run for the Senate seat currently held by Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube. Gruters is Howard’s campaign treasurer.
As of April 30, Howard leads Gregory in hard money fundraising with nearly $125,000 raised, including $100,000 in candidate loans, to his $56,000. Gregory has the advantage when soft money is included. His committee, Friends of Tommy Gregory, has $85,000 banked, giving him a combined $132,220 on hand compared to $123,900 for Howard.
HD 73 covers parts of Manatee and Sarasota, with more than 85 percent of the district’s voters residing in Manatee County. The district massively favors Republicans, who make up nearly half of the electorate compared to a 25 percent share for Democrats.