The forms may say state House District 34, but make no mistake: Ralph Massullo is eying the Senate.
Massullo, a three-term House Republican from Lecanto, is awaiting the legislative redistricting process to see what the future Senate district that includes Citrus County looks like.
Senate District 10 now connects Citrus to the south with Hernando and Pasco counties. Massullo said he prefers a Senate district that links Citrus east and north to Levy, Marion and Sumter counties.
Officially, he has opened a campaign account for reelection, having collected $39,379 — including $18,379 of his own money. So far, he is the only candidate running for HD 34.
He also has a political committee, Better Lives for Floridians, with about $146,000 banked, and most of it was raised this year. Combined, Massullo’s has about $168,000 ready to spend on his 2022 campaign.
SD 10 is currently held by Senate President Wilton Simpson, the Trilby Republican who is running for Agriculture Commissioner next year. Two candidates have opened campaign accounts, including Spring Hill Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, whose state House career ends next year regardless because of term limits.
“I wouldn’t have any qualms running against him,” Massullo said.
Ingoglia, who loaned his campaign $500,000, declined to discuss any potential Senate race while the redistricting process is ongoing. He entered August with about $1.42 million banked between his official campaign account and political committees, Government Gone Wild and Friends of Blaise Ingoglia.
Former Sen. John Legg, a New Port Richey Republican, also has a campaign account for SD 10. Legg opened the account in 2012, state election records show. Though he hasn’t collected a dime since 2016, the former lawmaker has $145,000 ready to go.
However, Legg has been clear that he will not run for Senate in 2022. As it stands, the account is merely a placeholder for a future run, if the opportunity presents itself.
Massullo said he wouldn’t face a current House colleague in a Senate race unless he had support from Senate leadership beforehand.
Simpson and his successor as Senate President, Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, have not shied away from putting their thumbs on the scale in other GOP primaries. They essentially ended the race for Senate District 4 before it started by endorsing Rep. Clay Yarborough over Rep. Cord Byrd and Rep. Jason Fischer.
Massullo knows their blessing would be crucial if he decides to run for Senate. Currently, he’s soliciting support from House members in surrounding counties should the new Senate district shift Citrus out of SD 10.
“That would be the perfect scenario for me,” Massullo said. “I would have little competition.”
Massullo said his fallback — running for reelection — exists if he is not the favored candidate with leadership in a potential Primary against a current House member.
Court-ordered redistricting in 2015 moved Citrus County out of Senate District 5 — a 10-county slice of rural western Florida that included part of Marion County.
Citrus moving into District 10, where Simpson was already an up-and-comer in line for Senate President, upended the hopes of then-Rep. Jimmie Smith. The Inverness Republican dropped his Senate campaign, supported Simpson, and instead won a term on the Citrus County Commission. Smith served four years and lost a re-election campaign last year.