JJ Grow’s quest for HD 23 seat kicks into gear

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'It’s a great opportunity to serve my community.'

The race two years ago was a dress rehearsal. Now it’s the real deal for JJ Grow.

Grow, an Inverness agribusinessman, is well into his race for House District 23 to replace Rep. Ralph Massullo, who is termed out after eight years in office.

With five weeks until qualifying, Grow’s only Republican challenger is Tod Cloud, a retired Florida Highway Patrol trooper who ran for the same spot two years ago and finished second in a three-candidate race, well behind Massullo. Democrat Judith Vowels awaits the Republican Primary winner.

Grow had kicked off his campaign in 2022 when Massullo was thought to be running for SD 11. Massullo instead sought re-election after Gov. Ron DeSantis endorsed Massullo’s Senate opponent, Blaise Ingoglia.

Grow and the other front-runner, Rebecca Bays, both dropped from the HD 23 race. Bays instead ran successfully for Citrus County Commission.

Grow is way ahead financially, hauling in donations much like a Citrus County incumbent. Including what he did not return from the dissolved 2022 campaign, Grow has $125,682 in collections compared to Cloud’s $8,920.

He raised $11,000 on ticket sales alone for a campaign kickoff Thursday night at M&B Dairy in Lecanto. Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, who had a fundraiser at this same location for his statewide run in 2021, served as host.

Simpson, who represented Citrus County during his Senate tenure, told the crowd that Grow is suited for the job.

“You need a champion to fight for you,” he said.

Ingoglia, who faces Democratic challenger Marilyn Holleran in his re-election bid, described Grow much the same way.

“I will tell you come November, you are going to elect another fighter to the state House,” he said.

Massullo had this to say about Grow: “We need individuals who can think on their feet. JJ Grow is one of those individuals.”

Grow recounted growing up in Inverness, joining Future Farmers of America in high school, and learning the value of hard work.

“I fell in love with FFA. It changed my life,” he said.

Grow and his wife, Jennifer, are known for their philanthropy work particularly in the areas of outdoors, hunting, and fishing.

“It’s a great opportunity to serve my community,” he said. “It’s not about me. It’s about me serving you.”

Mike Wright

Mike Wright is a former reporter with the Citrus County Chronicle, where he had covered county government and politics since 1987. Mike's skills as an investigative reporter earned him first-place awards in investigative writing. Mike also helped the Chronicle win the Frances Devore Award for Public Service in 2002.


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