George Gainer to forgo re-election to state Senate
George Gainer says four more years would be just too much.

Florida's eldest state Senator was once the youngest person ever elected to the Bay County Board of Commissioners.

After six years in the Florida Senate, Sen. George Gainer won’t seek re-election to Senate District 2.

The Panama City Republican, who was first elected to the Senate in 2016, announced his decision Monday on Panama City’s WMBB TV station, partially citing health reasons. His retirement will bring to a close a career of public service that spanned seven decades.

Gainer 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.

“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.”

Gainer is eligible for one more term, which would have given him a total of 10 consecutive years in the Senate. Four more years would’ve been too much for him physically, he said.

“I may have a little separation anxiety, but it all comes back down to I know it’s the right thing,” he continued.

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

As a Senator, Gainer played a key role in advocating for his district after Hurricane Michael made landfall near Tyndall Air Force Base, just southeast of Panama City, in October 2018.

In 1968 at the age of 24, Gainer became the youngest person ever elected to the Bay County Board of Commissioners. He later returned to the Board of Commissioners in 2002.

“I knew this day would come one day,” Gainer told WJHG when he left the Board of Commissioners for the Senate. “I didn’t know if they’d carry me out feet first or if I’d walk out, but it has certainly been the thrill of my life and the reward of my life to serve all you fine people.”

Gainer ran unopposed in the SD 2 Primary and General Election in 2016. In 2018, he defeated Fort Walton Beach Democrat Mary Jeanne “Gigi” Gibson 75%-25% in the heavily Republican-leaning district.

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

House Appropriations Chairman Jay Trumbull, a fellow Panama City Republican, announced early Tuesday that he will run for Gainer’s seat.

Upon news of Gainer’s retirement, the tributes to his service began to ring out.

“(Senator Gainer) has a legacy of leadership and is a champion for Bay County and the Panhandle. I am honored to call him a mentor and friend. Every elected official in our region will continue to seek his counsel on issues important to Florida,” Trumbull tweeted.

Chief among them was from Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis:

Gov. Ron DeSantis followed suit Tuesday morning, bidding Gainer farewell and endorsing Trumbull:

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 r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Goodbye

    June 7, 2022 at 5:54 am

    So long old man.
    Hope you never show up again except in a coffin lol

    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      June 7, 2022 at 7:38 am

      This is the voice and mind of the left. This is what we need to remember when we vote. Pathology.

  • It's Complicated

    June 7, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    Sen. Gainer managed-well the multi-tract life of being a man of faith and family, a successful businessman, and a high-integrity public servant. His life is the kind of story that people of character should hold in high esteem. I sincerely hope he enjoys his retirement!

Comments are closed.


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