Republican Rep. Mike Beltran has a challenger in his 2020 reelection bid.
Scott Hottenstein opened a campaign account for House District 57 Wednesday. The Riverview Democrat is the first so far the only candidate who has signed up to run for the seat.
When he announced the party switch, he told the Tampa Bay Times that he ” came to realize that my values and views on education were more closely aligned with the Democratic Party.”
Those views include education funding, the support of teachers’ unions, and “keeping guns out of the classroom,” he said, adding, “I’ve always been a moderate.”
According to his campaign bio, he moved from New York to Florida when he was 3 years old and graduated from U.S. Naval Academy in 1992 with a degree in political science.
He served on three ships and returned to the Naval Academy to teach in the Leadership and Law Department.
Later, he commanded a Naval Reserve Center and was second-in-command for multiple units such as an Ordnance Battalion, a Customs Battalion of 450 Sailors that deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, and Kyrgyzstan, and Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy during the most recent Libya conflict.
He retired from the Navy in 2012 and moved to Lithia, where he now works as a middle school civics teacher.
He ultimately placed third in a six-way primary election for the School Board seat, nabbing just over 15 percent of the vote.
On the same primary ballot, Beltran defeated fellow Republican Sean McCoy to earn the Republican nomination for HD 57, which was held by former Republican Rep. Jake Raburn for six years before he announced he wouldn’t seek a fourth term.
The primary win made him Raburn’s de facto successor, though he did face opposition in the general. He defeated Democrat Debbie Katt by double digits to punch his ticket to Tallahassee.
HD 57 covers part of southeastern Hillsborough County and leans Republican.
Republicans have ceded a little ground in their share of the HD 57 electorate over the past few years, but not enough to make the seat a major flip target.
Ahead of the 2016 election, the GOP had a 9,000-voter advantage. Heading into Election Day 2018, there were about 8,000 more registered Republicans than registered Democrats.
Additionally, the GOP’s 7-percentage-point lead in voter registrations has been outperformed at the ballot box — In 2012, the only campaign where Raburn faced a Democratic challenger, he cruised to a 17-percentage-point victory.
The seat also went plus-12 for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election according to elections data compiled by Matt Isbell of MCI Maps.
As of Aug. 31, Beltran had raised more than $60,000 for his reelection campaign and had about $55,000 of that cash in the bank. He also has about $2,500 stashed away in his affiliated political committee, Hillsborough United.
Hottenstein’s first campaign finance report isn’t due until mid-October, though if his School Board campaign is any indication, Beltran will likely maintain the money edge this go around. Over the course of the year, Hottenstein raised about $8,800, including $2,500 in self-contributions.