Jackie Toledo picks up Democratic challenger
Photo via Florida House.

Jackie Toledo on House floor
Julie Jenkins filed for the seat on Thursday

Tampa Republican Rep. Jackie Toledo has picked up a challenger in her reelection bid in House District 60.

Tampa Democrat Julie Jenkins filed for the seat on Thursday and is so far the only other entrant in the race besides the incumbent.

HD 60 covers part of southern Hillsborough County and has a slight Republican lean. The 2018 election saw Toledo win a second term by about five points over Democratic nominee Debra Bellanti.

The district also went for Donald Trump in the 2016 cycle, though only by about one percentage point.

The race was expensive. Toledo’s campaign dished out more than $365,000 in hard money, while Bellanti’s accounted for another $80,000 in spending.

Toledo is already well positioned for 2020, having raised nearly $200,000 in campaign cash, $114,000 of it in the bank. She has another $94,000 on hand in an affiliated political committee, Engineering a Better Future.

Jenkins will have a couple months to put a dent in Toledo’s lead, as sitting lawmakers are barred from raising money during the 60-day Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 14.

As a new candidate, Jenkins’ first finance report is due in mid-February. The deadline for candidates to enter state Legislative races is June 12.

She’ll have a tough battle on her hands against Toledo who has served as a popular Republican in the Legislature who has become known for working across the aisle. During the 2019 Legislative Session, Toledo successfully brokered a texting while driving ban that make it a primary offense. Lawmakers have for years been trying unsuccessfully to accomplish that.

This year, Toledo is working with Democrats to add LGBT protections into the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.

Still, Jenkins might see support from the state party as Democrats continue working toward reducing the Republican stronghold in the conservative House and, eventually, hope to flip it blue. The party will likely be spending wisely as it seeks to protect two Tampa Bay area seats where incumbents are leaving to seek higher office — Reps. Margaret Good and Adam Hattersley.

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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