Bill Gunter in Good Shape for Primary, But Hard Work Starts in General Election
Around the State
If Bill Gunter is elected to the Florida House in a special election next month, he will bring a very different background to the Legislature. In the Republican primary on Tuesday, Gunter is a heavy favorite to defeat Republican leader Jim Mathieu and Jeromy Harding in the primary.
Gunter, a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, has served at the Redeemer Community Church for more than a decade. He won some fame for playing football under Steve Spurrier at the University of Florida in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Both Weatherford and Corcoran are, like Gunter, from Pasco County. Corcoran has been Gunter’s chief patron but there’s more to his support than just local politics. There’s a chance Gunter could follow in Weatherford’s and Corcoran’s footsteps and become House speaker after the 2020 elections. That would give Pasco County three House speakers in a decade, a major plum for any area with great rewards for the district.
Gunter’s camp is confident about winning on Tuesday but it could be tougher come October in the general election. Democrat Amanda Murphy is waiting for whoever wins the primary on Tuesday. As a vice president for Raymon James, Murphy has an impressive business background and she could be a strong candidate for the Democrats. Still, she starts off as an underdog and there are rumbles that her fundraising events have not packed supporters in.
Fasano, a maverick who often clashed with the Republican leadership in Tallahassee in recent years, could be a wild card. Murphy has gone out of her way to praise Fasano. Even more troubling for Gunter, Fasano has not exactly warmed up to the Republican who wants to fill his shoes. While Republicans in Tallahassee have soured on Fasano, he remains a major player in Pasco County where he has been winning elections for decades.
Gunter is the favorite, to be sure. He’s done well in rounding up conservatives and Republican leaders behind his candidacy. Gunter should cruise on Tuesday but, after the primary, the hard part of this campaign is about to begin.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.