Traci Koster picks up Democratic challenger David Tillery

david tillery
'When I found out there was an open spot in the district I lived in, I was incredibly motivated to step forward and run.'

As the state’s qualifying period wraps up, incumbent Republican Rep. Traci Koster has picked up a Democratic challenger, changing what was less than a week ago an unopposed re-election to House District 66.

Entrepreneur David Tillery entered the race as a Democrat in hopes of representing the North Tampa area in HD 66. He filed his paperwork last Friday, days before the state’s election qualifying week began.

“When I found out there were some different districts that were open and no Democrats were running, I was unhappy,” Tillery told Florida Politics. “When I found out there was an open spot in the district I lived in, I was incredibly motivated to step forward and run.”

Tillery, who has been a resident of the Carrollwood area for the past three decades, started his career as a sales rep for an electronics company. After 15 years, he was able to become an entrepreneur and launch his own business.

But, what really keeps Tillery on his feet is volunteer work. Tillery is the founder of the nonprofit North Tampa Dart Association, which raises money for various charities including Autism Speaks, and boasts almost 50 members. He also runs a weekly comedy show that hosts canned food drives and fundraises for Homeless Helping Homeless. Since February, they’ve raised about $4,000, he said.

“I’ve been to the spectrum, financially, from working from paycheck to paycheck to picking up monthly commissions that would equal some people’s salaries in a year. From one spectrum to the other. It never changed me. I’m still always working to help others,” he said.

A self-described human rights and social rights activist, his biggest causes include expanding Medicaid and protecting Social Security. As far as his platforms, he has three: education, health care and equality.

So, how does he plan on unseating an incumbent?

Well, the standard canvassing and marketing events; but Tillery also alluded to some creative tricks up his sleeve.

“I’m a creative person, and I’ve got some interesting things that I have in the works,” he said.

And Tillery may have to get creative to sway voters in the recently redrawn district. HD 66 appears to have a slight Republican lean, with only 48% of the district going to President Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election, while 52% was handed to Donald Trump. Even more, in 2018, Gov. Ron DeSantis took the district by nearly 53% of the vote, while Andrew Gillum only acquired 46%.

A nonpartisan candidate also entered the race last week, Linda Tavernier-Almada. Because Tavernier-Almada registered as NPA, all three candidates will head straight into the General Election, skipping past the Primary.

Koster, a Tampa lawyer, was first elected to the Florida House in 2020. She entered the race originally as a replacement for then-incumbent Rep. Jamie Grant, who withdrew his name from the ballot to assume the job as Florida’s Chief Information Officer.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704