Rich Tatem becomes first candidate to announce run to succeed Tommy Gregory
Image via Facebook.

Rich Tatem
The Manatee County School Board member won his current office in 2022.

Manatee County School Board member Rich Tatem just launched a run for House District 72. He’s the first candidate to declare since Rep. Tommy Gregory announced he won’t seek re-election.

Tatem, a Bradenton Republican, said he plans to govern in a similar fashion to Gregory, who was selected as State College of Florida’s next President.

“Tommy Gregory has been a strong leader for Florida and an effective leader for House District 72, and it is no surprise that he has this new opportunity,” Tatem said.

“It is imperative that we elect someone who will carry on his legacy of conservative leadership that has helped brand our state as the Free State of Florida. After a lot of prayer, discussion with my wife, and encouragement from key supporters, I have made the decision to become a candidate for state representative and to continue that legacy.”

Tatem, an Air Force veteran and retired Colonel, graduated from the Air Force Academy and later served there as an assistant professor.  He won his seat on the School Board in 2022.

Following his time in the service, Tatem wrote the book “Interviews With The Founders: The way America is now — and the way America is supposed to be.”

Tatem said he’s a strong supporter of school choice, parents’ rights and classical education.

He has served in a nonpartisan office, but as he runs for a seat in the Legislature, laid out a clear Republican-friendly agenda.

“Our nation is currently experiencing the catastrophic result of the radical, liberal agenda: mass illegal immigration, a devaluation of our money supply, and a scheme for cultural indoctrination that opposes every value fundamental to American greatness,” Tatem said.

“Running for State House is an opportunity for me to stand with Governor (Ron) DeSantis and our next President (Donald) Trump to push back on that liberal agenda and to continue to empower our school boards to do the same.”

Several other candidates are considering a run, according to Manatee County political sources, including former Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, former prosecutor Lisa Chittaro, Manatee County Planning Commissioner William Conerly and AG Creative founder Alyssa Gay.

The east Manatee County district leans heavily Republican. Nearly 59% of voters there supported Trump for President in 2020, and nearly 66% backed DeSantis’ re-election in 2022.

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].


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