By noon Friday, nearly 25% of the Legislature could be elected without voters getting a say in the matter.
***Update – 6.16*** — More candidates are jumping in the ring to challenge incumbents in the final days of qualifying. Since Tuesday, two Senate Democrats previously set to run unopposed drew GOP opponents. Sen. Linda Stewart will face Steve Dixon in the general election, and Sen. Victor Torres will square off against Peter Vivaldi. Torres beat Vivaldi in the 2016 General Election. In the House, two Republican incumbents face Democratic challengers. Veysel Dokur will look to unseat Rep. Wyman Duggan, and Bichara Ceneus is trying to oust Rep. Sam Killebrew.
***Update – 6.15*** — Since this story published Tuesday, the Division of Elections has received paperwork from four Democratic House candidates putting their name up to challenge previously unopposed candidates: Linda Kero of Leesburg, who has entered the House District 26 race against GOP Rep. Keith Truenow; Robert Guy Dameus of Parrish, who is challenging GOP Rep. Tommy Gregory in House District 72; Saima Farooqui of Coconut Creek, who is vying in the Primary against Lisa Ann-Marie Dunkley in House District 97; and Imran Uddin Siddiqi of Miramar, who is forcing Rep. Marie Woodson into a Primary race.
Official qualifying for legislative races began Monday and ends at noon Friday. As of Monday afternoon, there were 10 Senate candidates and 30 House candidates without opposition. If they don’t attract an opponent by the end of the week, they assume office after the November elections without having to campaign.
That list could grow or shrink by the end of qualifying week, if last-minute candidates jump in races or if candidates who previously filed their intention to run drop out.
There could be other complications as well. For instance, the only candidate who has filed an intent to run in House District 97 is Lisa Ann-Marie Dunkley, a Sunrise Democrat. But although she filed her intention to qualify by petition, the Division of Elections shows her as returning 437 petitions as of May 23, 162 short of the 599 necessary to qualify by petition. She’ll have to pay the $1,781.82 fee by Friday to qualify in lieu of the petition method.
Future legislative leaders such as Senate President Designate Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, Rep. Danny Perez, a Miami Republican slated to become House Speaker in 2024, and Rep. Sam Garrison, a Fleming Island Republican poised to succeed Perez as Speaker in 2026, do not have opponents so far.
Just as in the Legislature at large, Republicans greatly outnumber Democrats in running unopposed. In the Senate, seven of the unopposed candidates are Republicans and three are Democrats, and in the House the split is 23-7 in favor of the GOP.
Here is the list of candidates without opponents for their respective races so far:
Senate District 4 – Rep. Clay Yarborough, Jacksonville Republican
Senate District 11 – Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, Spring Hill Republican
Senate District 17 – Sen. Linda Stewart, Orlando Democrat
Senate District 23 – Sen. Danny Burgess, Zephyrhills Republican
Senate District 25 – Sen. Victor Torres, Kissimmee Democrat
Senate District 28 – Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, Naples Republican
Senate District 29 – Rep. Erin Grall, Vero Beach Republican
Senate District 31 – Sen. Gayle Harrell, Stuart Republican
Senate District 37 – Sen. Jason Pizzo, Miami Democrat
Senate District 40 – Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, Miami Republican
House District 4 – Rep. Patt Maney, Shalimar Republican
House District 7 – Rep. Jason Shoaf, Port St. Joe Republican
House District 10 – Rep. Chuck Brannan, Macclenny Republican
House District 11 – Rep. Sam Garrison, Fleming Island Republican
House District 12 – Rep. Wyman Duggan, Jacksonville Republican
House District 18 – Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, St. Johns County Republican
House District 24 – Rep. Joe Harding, Williston Republican
House District 26 – Rep. Keith Truenow, Tavares Republican
House District 27 – Rep. Stan McClain, Ocala Republican
House District 31 – Rep. Tyler Sirois, Merritt Island Republican
House District 48 – Rep. Sam Killebrew, Winter Haven Republican
House District 49 – Rep. Melony Bell, Fort Meade Republican
House District 63 – Rep. Dianne Hart, Tampa Democrat
House District 71 – Rep. Will Robinson, Bradenton Republican
House District 72 – Rep. Tommy Gregory, Sarasota Republican
House District 75 – Rep. Michael Grant, Port Charlotte Republican
House District 76 – Rep. Spencer Roach, North Fort Myers Republican
House District 79 – Rep. Michael Giallombardo, Cape Coral Republican
House District 81 – Rep. Bob Rommel, Naples Republican
House District 82 – Rep. Lauren Melo, Naples Republican
House District 83 – Rep. Kaylee Tuck, Lake Placid Republican
House District 95 – Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, Parkland Democrat
House District 97 – Lisa Ann-Marie Dunkley, Sunrise Democrat
House District 102 – Rep. Michael Gottlieb, Davie Democrat
House District 104 – Rep. Felicia Robinson, Miami Gardens Democrat
House District 105 – Rep. Marie Woodson, Hollywood Democrat
House District 110 – Rep. Tom Fabricio, Miramar Republican
House District 111 – Rep. David Borrero, Sweetwater Republican
House District 112 – Rep. Alejandro Rizo, Hialeah Republican
House District 116 – Rep. Danny Perez, Miami Republican
House District 117 – Rep. Kevin Chambliss, Homestead Democrat