Pasco County Republican Kevin Steele will now run in Florida House 55 to succeed Rep. Ardian Zika.
Steele praised Zika, who announced Thursday morning he would not seek a third term. He said he would continue in the outgoing Representative’s footsteps in bringing Pasco County’s local needs to the Capitol.
“Rep. Zika is a champion for our Pasco County community,” Steele said. “His love of our country and his passion for public service have helped turn Florida into the freest state in the nation and we are all better because of his leadership.”
Steele previously announced he would run in House District 53, though the address he lists with the Division of Elections sits in the new House District 55. The Florida Legislature this year conducted a once-a-decade redistricting process to redraw every House seat based on the 2020 Census.
Steele’s messaging for his House campaign adopts language Gov. Ron DeSantis has stressed as he runs for re-election this year. Steele said he would focus on maintaining a low regulatory environment that helped boost the economy.
“Our campaign has always been rooted in keeping Florida free and bringing business-minded, conservative solutions to government,” Steele said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to take that message to voters one door at a time.”
Senate President Wilton Simpson, a candidate for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, immediately endorsed Steele’s candidacy. The Trilby Republican was an ally to Zika and also hails from Pasco County.
“Kevin Steele is a tried-and-true conservative businessman, loving father and husband, and pillar of our community,” Simpson said. “I know we can count on Kevin to fight for our shared values in Tallahassee and continue to keep Florida free for generations to come. I’m proud to endorse him for the State House and look forward to working together to keep Florida moving in the right direction.”
Steele grew up in Tampa Bay and attended the University of South Florida. He later launched a successful data tech company in the health care field.
He came out strong in his first month of fundraising, raising six figures on top of a $250,000 candidate loan. Through March, he raised $123,650 in outside donations.
Steele joins Gabriel Papadopoulos as a Republican running to succeed Zika. Papadopoulos filed for the seat in March and has raised $1,660 in donations on top of $1,135 from a loan.
The seat is a heavily Republican one, where 60.34% of voters favored Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election and just 38.33% voted for Democrat Joe Biden.