The Florida House Speaker-designate and a prominent Christian conservative group on Tuesday endorsed Fred Costello to succeed U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.
Costello, a former state representative from Ormond Beach who has been a distant third in the money race with Ponte Vedra’s John Ward and St. Augustine Beach’s Mike Waltz, has predicated his bid on grassroots momentum and endorsements from those who know him best.
The announcements of backing from Rep. Jose Oliva and Florida Family Action speak to that strategy.
“Fred Costello represents the very best of our party and our ideology. It is my pleasure to endorse him for Congress,” Oliva said.
The media release from the Costello campaign, in mentioning the FFA endorsement, notes that “endorsement indicates a very high likelihood of confidence that this candidate will govern and vote as a conservative.”
The FFA endorsement is no surprise. FFA President John Stemberger endorsed Costello in January.
Costello has been widely endorsed, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Attorney General Pam Bondi backing him.
The National Rifle Association also had endorsed him, then rescinded backing after a disagreement over the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety bill’s banning of firearm purchases for those under 21 years of age, a provision that Costello supported and the NRA opposed.
With incumbent DeSantis running for Governor, the seat is open — and this will be an expensive race through November. Waltz and Ward, both heavily self-financed, had on hand over $616,000 and $467,000 respectively at the end of June.
Costello, while not on television and at a distinct disadvantage with just $51,308 on hand, nonetheless is competitive with the two first-time candidates, both new to the district, in at least one July poll.
Neither Ward nor Waltz seems especially concerned with Costello. However, Costello picks up 21.1 percent of likely Republican primary voters in CD 6; Ward gets 20.5 percent; Waltz has 20 percent.
It appears the winner of this three-way scrum is on track to face Ambassador Nancy Soderberg.
A survey released last month from St. Pete Polls showed Soderberg up big, with her 30 percent support amounting to more than opponents Sevigny (10 percent) and John Upchurch (13 percent) had combined.
Soderberg is well-positioned to make her case with undecided voters, with nearly $1.5 million in total fundraising since she entered the race and $981,790 cash on hand as of the end of June.
Soderberg has a national network of support that appears especially formidable, including backing from former Vice President Joe Biden, that suggests that a race against her will be nationalized.