Jay Trumbull announces campaign to succeed George Gainer in SD 2
George Gainer is out — Jay Trumbull seeks to take his seat.

The Panama City native might be returning to Tallahassee.

Rep. Jay Trumbull has entered the race to succeed Sen. George Gainer in Senate District 2.

Trumbull, a Panama City Republican, was expected to leave Tallahassee after reaching his term limit after eight years in the Florida House. However, with Gainer’s announcement Monday that he won’t seek re-election after six years in the Florida Senate, the door opened for Trumbull to remain in the Legislature.

“Sen. George Gainer is an exemplary leader with a heart for public service, and I will work hard to carry on his legacy for District 2,” Trumbull said. “Serving in the State House has been a great privilege, and in the Senate, I will continue to fight for the small businesses and working families of Florida.”

Trumbull is launching his campaign in great shape. His political committee, Panhandle Prosperity, has more than $1 million in cash on hand.

Trumbull has been an influential lawmaker. He has served as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee since 2020, making him the top House lawmaker on budget negotiations after House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Under Trumbull’s leadership, the Legislature passed its first two budgets of more than $100 billion. Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday approved the second of those budgets, worth $109.9 billion, after vetoing $3.1 billion from lawmakers’ spending plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

DeSantis tweeted an endorsement of Trumbull Tuesday morning.

“(Jay Trumbull) has been a strong ally for my agenda in the Legislature and a great champion for the people of (Northwest) Florida. (Senator Gainer) leaves big shoes to fill, but I believe Jay will be a great Senator and I am happy to support him for Senate District 2,” the Governor wrote.

During the news conference when DeSantis announced his budget signing, Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo — who is expected to be elected Senate President later this year — told reporters Trumbull would “hopefully be joining (her) in the Senate.”

She made that endorsement official Tuesday.

“The shadow cast by George Gainer and his deep roots in Florida’s Panhandle are measured in the lives of those he’s touched beyond his public service and well into his larger than life role in the community,” Passidomo said.

“George has fought for families and small business owners, and laid the groundwork for the next generation of great public servants like Jay Trumbull. I’m confident that Jay will carry on the rich North Florida tradition of fighting for more freedom and less government.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson and Wauchula Republican Sen. Ben Albritton, who is expected to become Senate President in 2024, announced Tuesday they would back Trumbull as well.

“George Gainer is a brilliant businessman who brought with him to Tallahassee a profound love for the people of his community. Ever the statesman, George reminds us all of the responsibility we have to encourage and mentor others, that humility matters and hard work is the best example a man can set,” Simpson said.

“As George’s legacy of service and integrity takes root, North Floridians can rest assured that Jay Trumbull is ready to fight for them in the Florida Senate.”

Added Albritton, “George leaves some pretty big shoes to fill, and I know Jay Trumbull will work each and every day to ensure the people of North Florida’s voices are heard in Tallahassee. It’s an honor to endorse Northwest Florida’s next superstar!”

Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican who has served in the House with Trumbull the last eight years, also endorsed his bid.

“We need more people like (Jay Trumbull) in office. He’s a good man who loves his family, God, his community (and) our state. As House Appropriations Chairman, he crafted a budget that prioritized public good over special interests. The Senate will be a better place (with) Jay as a member,” Sprowls tweeted.

Like Gainer, Trumbull played a major role in helping Panama City and Tyndall Air Force Base rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in the area in October 2018.

In a release outlining his reasons for running for the Senate, Trumbull said: “Our Panhandle values of faith, family, and freedom are the key to Florida’s present economic boom. To sustain that prosperity long term, I’ll fight to lower taxes, protect our environment, and fight for the lives of the unborn.”

Continued Trumbull, “I have and will continue to stand with Gov. DeSantis to push back against the federal overreach that threatens our Constitutional rights and preserve our focus on freedom in our great State.”

Trumbull, a Panama City native, attended Bay High School and Auburn University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in small business management and entrepreneurship. Trumbull was first elected to House District 6 in 2014, succeeding now-Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

SD 2 currently covers Bay, Holmes, Jackson, Walton and Washington counties and part of Okaloosa County. With new district maps approved by lawmakers, parts of Okaloosa County will join the neighboring Senate District 1, currently held by Gulf Breeze Republican Sen. Doug Broxson.

Gainer, a fellow Panama City Republican, will turn 80 in August, three days ahead of his would-be Primary Election date. He also missed much of the first part of the 2022 Legislative Session for back surgery, and cited health reasons as part of his decision not to run again.

“It was just time,” Gainer told WMBB. “I need to spend a little time with family and with my friends and stuff that I enjoy doing, and there are a lot of very qualified, good people out there in the Second District.”

Santa Rosa Beach Democrat Carolynn Zonia is the only candidate who has qualified to run in SD 2 this year. However, Destin Republican Regina LaVon Piazza has filed her intent to qualify.

Gainer has no plans to endorse a potential successor.

SD 2 is a heavily Republican-leaning district. It went for DeSantis over former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 47 points in 2018 and for former President Donald Trump over President Joe Biden by 44 points in 2020.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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