Former NFL, FSU star Corey Simon challenges Loranne Ausley for state Senate
Corey Simon nabs a big endorsement in his bid for Congress.

Simon bring name recognition and political ties to a race that is within reach for Republicans.

Former professional and Florida State football player Corey Simon is challenging Tallahassee Sen. Loranne Ausley in Senate District 3.

The former All-American defensive tackle and National Football League pro-bowler will run as a Republican against the incumbent Democrat as she hopes to win her first Senate re-election bid, his campaign announced Monday.

Simon brings name recognition and political ties, as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ CEO of Volunteer Florida, to a race that is within reach for Republicans. At the very least, the race could bring heartache to Democrats, who hope to stave off a red wave in November.

“Tallahassee has given my family and I the opportunity to succeed and thrive both on the field and off. North Florida is our home, and I want to do everything I can to give back to the community that has given so much to us,” Simon said in a statement.

“I am proud to announce my campaign for State Senate, because our community needs a voice that can deliver access to world class educational opportunities, safer neighborhoods and less government regulations on our small business owners.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican who is the favorite in this year’s Agriculture Commissioner race, immediately endorsed Simon’s candidacy.

“As CEO of Volunteer Florida, Corey knows firsthand the challenges that so many Floridians face and has led the charge to connect those in need with those willing to lend a hand,” Simpson said in a statement. “He is uniquely suited to serve the hardworking people of Florida, and I am proud to endorse such a compassionate candidate for Senate District 3.”

Evan Power, Chairman of the Leon County Republican Party and the Florida GOP’s Chairman of Chairs, issued Simon his support in a statement to Florida Politics.

“Corey Simon has served us well as the CEO of Volunteer Florida. He’s a true patriot who will deliver a great common sense citizen contrast to Loranne. Ausley caters to the extremists on the left,” Power said.

Simon, a Broward County native, played football for Florida State University on a scholarship and was a 1999 BCS National Champion before being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles as the sixth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft.

Simon’s career spanned eight NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. One of those seasons he did not play, but he still earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the winning Colts.

After his football career, he devoted himself to philanthropy. Simon created Corey’s Kids, a nonprofit that provided mentorship to kids within North Florida’s foster care system. He also partnered with Big Bend Community Based Care, coached high school football at Maclay School in Tallahassee and played an active role at a local church.

DeSantis drafted Simon in 2020 to be the CEO of Volunteer Florida, which administers AmeriCorps in Florida and joins Floridians looking to volunteer with organizations that need their help.

Ausley, who served 12 years in the House between 2000 and 2020, won her first Senate election in 2020 by 7 points, but not without a significant challenge from Republican Marva Preston. Re-election could be harder still, as redistricting added rural land to SD 3 that shifted the district 6 points in favor of Republicans. It turned SD 3 from a district that went for President Joe Biden by 9 points in 2020 into one that would have only broken his way by 3 points.

President-designate Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican who is expected to lead the Senate the next two years, endorsed Simon alongside Simpson.

“A lot of people talk about what needs to be done to help our communities, but Corey Simon has actually put in the hard work to understand the challenges people face. That’s what problem solvers do,” Passidomo said in the statement. “I look forward to welcoming Corey to the Florida Senate.”

Sen. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who is in line to lead the Senate for the 2024-26 term, joined in the statement to issue Simon his support.

“Leaders are born on the field, in the arena. No one has ever had to tell Corey Simon to pitch in. He has stood up, showed up and worked his tail off to ensure those most in need have the backup they deserve,” Albritton said. “Floridians need leaders like Corey Simon in the Florida Senate.”

Calhoun County and Blountstown join neighboring Senate District 2 in the new Senate district map. In return, SD 3 picks up Dixie, Lafayette and Suwannee counties in the East.

If elected, Simon could potentially serve in the Senate until 2032 before being term-limited.

“Senate Leaders Simpson, Passidomo and Albritton have fought to protect Florida’s families and expand freedom for our people and our businesses,” Simon said. “I am honored to have their support as I work to earn the trust of North Florida voters.”

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.

One comment

  • Tishia A Moeller

    June 16, 2022 at 11:08 am

    I represent WOCA 1370 AM and 96.3 FM simulcasting from the Ocala International Airport in Ocala. Would you put me on your email list for political updates. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. Tish

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