Rep. Chris Latvala is running for Pinellas County Commission, according to documents filed with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website.
Latvala is filed to run for the District 5 in 2024 seat currently held by incumbent Karen Seel. Seel is not expected to seek reelection. She was reelected last year unopposed and would face reelection in the 2024 cycle.
Both Latvala and Seel are Republicans.
Latvala first filed for the seat in late January, according to the filing. His first campaign finance report in the race shows he has already banked $1,000 from his Suncoast Better Government Committee that has supported Latvala’s legislative races.
Latvala is term limited out of his House District 67 seat in 2022.
The County Commission District 5 seat is a single-member district covering much of the area Latvala currently represents in the Legislature including Largo, but it also encompasses additional areas like Clearwater Beach and Belleair, making it a touch redder than his current House district.
The County Commission district has a little more than 3,000 more Republican voters than Democrats at 58,530 to 55,182. House District 67 has a fewer than 900 voter advantage for Republicans with 37,942 compared to 37,086, according to the most recent voter registration reports with the Supervisor of Elections.
Voter turnout trends, which favor GOP candidates, give both districts an edge for conservatives. Still, with more than 47,000 no-party affiliated voters in Commission District 5, Democrats will likely eye the seat to flip as the 2024 election cycle gets closer.
Latvala declined to say much about his bid, given that campaigning for the 2022 cycle hasn’t really even started yet. He said he’s focused on preparing for the upcoming 2021 Legislative Session and looking ahead to the 2022 Session, which will be his last in Tallahassee.
“I’m full-bore getting ready for Legislative Session. 100% of my focus is on that,” Latvala told Florida Politics. “I figured I would put my flag down in that district early so people know what my intentions are.”
One candidate has emerged so far to replace Latvala in the Florida House.
Fellow Republican Jason Holloway filed Wednesday to run for Latvala’s seat. Holloway is a former legislative aide for Sen. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat. Kim Berfield, a Republican who served in the house from 2000-2006, is rumored to be eyeing a bid. Berfield ran for Florida Senate in 2006, but lost to now-Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice.