Demetries Grimes files to succeed Fred Hawkins in HD 35
Demetries Grimes.

The former Navy Commander previously ran for Congress.

Republican Demetries Grimes has filed to run in House District 35, making him the first candidate aiming to succeed Rep. Fred Hawkins.

“I’m excited about this new opportunity to serve again,” the St. Cloud Republican told Florida Politics.

Hawkins, a two-term Republican incumbent, was named the sole finalist to become South Florida State College’s next President. He anticipates starting in that job in early July, which will require his resignation from the House and prompt a Special Election.

Grimes, a former Commander in the U.S. Navy, has held various roles such as naval officer, aviator, Secretary of Defense Executive Fellow, diplomat, former military prosecutor in Afghanistan and adviser to NATO’s Maritime Commander.

He ran for an open seat in Congress in 2022. He ultimately came in fourth place in a Republican Primary, with the nomination going to now-U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee.

But Grimes said he learned a lot from that race, and took interest when news of Hawkins’ impending departure from the Legislature hit.

Grimes also previously ran as a Democrat in 2018, pursuing the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. He lost that contest to Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who unseated former Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo that cycle.

While the Special Election has not technically been called, Grimes has staffed up and filed for the HD 35 seat for 2024.

“I am determined to work tirelessly on behalf of the residents of District 35,” reads a statement from Grimes released by his campaign. “I believe in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and promoting policies that empower individuals and businesses to thrive. As your State Representative, I will fight for lower taxes, less regulations, improved education, and secure communities.”

Grimes said Florida must also remain vigilant to defend the rights of state’s residents, especially under President Joe Biden.

“We are in an existential fight for a strong, free America,” Grimes said. “Especially in the environment we are in right now, every elected official at every level matters. We are seeing the consequences of poor leadership around the country and at every level of government.”

Grimes believes his background in foreign policy will be important in the Legislature. He also said the experience gave him an understanding of how even domestic policy can have far-reaching consequences. He pointed to Ukraine, saying much of the conflict there stems from fear-driven climate policy that led to Europe shutting down coal and nuclear plants and becoming increasingly reliant on Russian oil.

While he remains opposed to drilling and natural gas exploration in Florida’s fragile environment, he wants to push back on an environmental agenda he sees as a “greenwashed socialist manifesto designed to reallocate resources to our adversaries.”

He describes himself as a constitution conservative, and would support open carry if elected in the Legislature.

He said Gov. Ron DeSantis will need allies in the Legislature, and he also wants to support President Donald Trump if he is re-elected.

With both those men running for President in 2024, Grimes is endorsing Trump over DeSantis. But he stressed a strong admiration of DeSantis, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the ugly things about politics is people think if you are supporting one person, you are not supportive of another,” Grimes said. “For the people of America to have to choose between Trump and DeSantis is a good problem to have.”

Hawkins in 2022 won re-election over Democrat Rishi Bagga, taking 55% in a district newly drawn after the state’s decennial redistricting. That victory came as Republicans overperformed statewide that year.

But the district could be a battleground in the Special Election, and Democrat Tom Keen filed a day after Grimes.

In the 2020 Presidential Election, nearly 52% of voters supported Biden over Trump. As of book closing for the 2022 elections, the district served as home to 40,746 no-party voters, compared to 40,464 registered Democrats and 37,534 Republicans.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Greg Fournier

    May 26, 2023 at 3:04 pm

    Grimes, would be a great representative of the people in the 35th district and Florida. He would be a great team player of the Republican lead Florida House, and he brings a very solid resume that would be a terrific asset to be part of the team in Tallahassee. Nobody running or thinking of running can compare in any way to the strengths and record of service that Grimes does. He is in this race not for himself. He is in this because he is the best choice to serve the people. I bet he welcomes the chance to prove it.

    • Antonio

      May 28, 2023 at 7:22 pm

      I thank him for his service, but Grimes is a fake Republican. He is an infiltrator to the Republican Party looking to gut it from the inside. Listen to his positions in the link below, pure Democrat party spiel:

      He tried running in the Tampa Bay area last year, and once he was exposed for his views, he cancelled all of his pre-election appearances with the exception of an REC meeting where all candidates could speak, but with no audience questions. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Beware.

  • Phil Morton

    May 27, 2023 at 1:51 am

    Tom Keen has got this race. No other candidates need apply.

  • Wendy Schmeling

    June 1, 2023 at 7:05 am

    Written on May 20, 2023
    I am writing this post to officially renounce my former support of Commander Demetries Grimes. I do so with a heavy heart, after numerous attempts to have Grimes set some records straight and make personal apologies where myself and my election were concerned. To date, he has blocked me, played childish social media games, and refused to act as a mature adult in the situation. The following are my experiences and opinions alone.

    If Grimes runs again for office in 2024 or later, you heard it first from me. I was on the campaign trail with him in 2022 when he schmoozed and swindled his way to try to get elected. He threw me under the political bus to support the RINO I ran against. Many voters distrusted him because of his actions, demeanor, and former run for office.

    He ran as a Democrat back in 2018 and could never explain why or how he changed his views. He just ran from questions, even ones I asked him. He referred me to an article that was written about him instead of saying the truth, whatever it may have been… Was it that he was a Democrat and changed his views because he saw the proverbial light and had an epiphany? Was it that he was advised wrong on how to run? We’ll never know, unless he speaks his truth instead of running from it.

    I don’t disparage the man his military service, but I will say I have huge red flags watching the 57 year old combat veteran who says he tried terrorists let others call the shots for him, command him, and tell him what to do. That just indicates a weakness to me and leaves an open door for a person to be bought and paid for in a corrupt way. Not the type of public official “We The People” want or need. Again, just my opinions.

    He took advice from shady characters in the 2022 election and it got him nowhere, so I would say he is repeating a cycle that only he can break, if he wants to. In my opinion this is not a stable mindset that’s fit for office. Being told by others what to do is never a good match in DC, (or Florida) unless you desire to be controlled by others.

    Grimes also supports novice authors that wrote a book, albeit an adventure novel, about climate change and global flood waters subduing the earth and humanity. This is a “chicken little the sky is falling” Democratic approach to the true ebb and flow of climate fluctuations over centuries, and it concerns me as a citizen. As a Republican, I would not support this nonsense. I struggle to understand why he would.

    The last thing that concerns me for a former “America First” candidate is just how much time, money, and other investments he has in Greece. I get it that he has family members there. However, in my opinion, there is a super fine line between being a true and authentic America and First citizen serving American citizens in America and trying to push an agenda that is for Greece instead. Can someone so devoted to another nation, creed, and culture be devoted to America and her citizens?

    If you asked me if I would vote for Commander Demetries Grimes my answer would be a resounding NO! If you asked me if you should vote for him, I would tell you to do your own research. We are living in dark days where many people are being deceived. The teacher in me would tell you to do your homework on this one.

Comments are closed.


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