Former House member Ritch Workman vies for Brevard Commission seat

workman, ritch
Workman withdrew his nomination to the PSC in 2017 when he was accused by a Senator of inappropriate and vulgar behavior.

Ritch Workman, a former GOP House member who later withdrew from his nomination to a utility regulation board after a Senator accused him of inappropriate behavior, has qualified to run for the Brevard County Commission District 5 seat this year.

The race will pit Workman against fellow Republican lawmaker Rep. Thad Altman in the Primary. The winner will face Democrat Vinnie Taranto Jr. in the General Election.

Workman has lost a Republican Primary to Altman before. In 2003, Altman won a six-way GOP contest in a Special Election for a Brevard County House seat, winning 41% of the vote as Workman finished second with 28.5%.

After winning the race to succeed Altman when he moved to the Senate in 2008, Workman served in the House for eight years before being term-limited. Workman then lost another Republican Primary to Sen. Debbie Mayfield in 2016, receiving 35% of the votes to Mayfield’s 42%. A third candidate, Mike Thomas, garnered 23% of the vote share.

Following the election, then-Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to be a member of the Public Service Commission. But in December 2017 he withdrew from the nomination after then-Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican, accused Workman of making “vulgar and inappropriate gestures” towards her at a charity event in 2016.

“I immediately asked him to stop. He continued to make vulgar and inappropriate comments and gestures until other attendees intervened. I found his conduct to be abhorrent,” Benacquisto said at the time.

Benacquisto was Senate Rules Chair at the time, and she wouldn’t put his nomination on the agenda.

District 5 in Brevard is heavily Republican and covers parts of Melbourne, West Melbourne, Palm Bay and Indialantic. The winner will replace Commission Chair Jason Steele, who was appointed to the Board by Gov. Ron DeSantis in June 2023, replacing Commissioner Kristine Zonka, a Republican who left to be the Director of the Department of Health in Brevard.

Gray Rohrer

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