State Rep. Ardian Zika is endorsing local business owner Kevin Steele as his successor in the House.
Zika, who was first elected in 2018, announced earlier this month that he would not seek a third term. Zika represented House District 37, but under the new map approved by the Legislature as part of redistricting, he lives in the new House District 55 — the seat Steele is seeking.
“I can think of no better person to continue my fight for American values than Kevin Steele. Kevin is a bold leader who values hard work, a strong education for our kids, and is determined to make life better for every Floridian. He has my complete endorsement to continue our fight to keep Florida Free,” Zika said in a statement.
Steele has rolled out a series of endorsements in May, including Pasco County Rep. Amber Mariano, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco and Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano.
“Ardian Zika is the American Dream personified. He was my voice in the State House and I will work every day to keep the American Dream alive and well as he did as a member of the Florida Legislature,” Steele said in a statement.
Steele’s messaging for his House campaign adopts language Gov. Ron DeSantis has stressed as he runs for re-election this year. He has already garnered strong backing from state GOP leaders, including Senate President Wilton Simpson, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner.
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.
Steele joins Gabriel Papadopoulos in the Republican Primary to succeed Zika. Papadopoulos filed for the seat in March and has raised $1,660 in donations on top of a $1,135 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.