Brad Drake Draws Major Primary Opponent in Florida House Fight

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: January 25, 2014 3:55 AM
Brad Drake

Brad Drake / Credit: myfloridahouse.gov

After two terms in the Florida House, Brad Drake stepped aside after redistricting in 2012 so fellow Republican Marti Coley could finish her last term. Drake has been running to return to Tallahassee ever since but now he has a major Republican opponent.

Earlier this month, Realtor Jan Hooks filed to run for the seat which covers all of Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington counties and part of Bay County. Hooks has been a leading Realtor around the Emerald Coast and Northwest Florida for well over a decade and has dabbled in public service, sitting on the Freeport Zoning and Planning Board.

Hooks is clearly a serious candidate and she’s relying on a familiar face to help with her campaign accounts -- Eric Robinson, the longtime accountant, Republican leader and donor based out of Southwest Florida.

Jan Hooks

Jan Hooks

Still, Drake will be no easy mark for Hooks. He served two terms in the Florida House and he does have deep roots in the area. Drake also has strong family ties to Florida politics, with his grandfather having served in the Florida House off and on during the 1930s through 1950s, and his cousin Pat Thomas serving almost three decades in the Florida Legislature, including a stint as Senate president in 1994. Closer to home, Drake’s father served as superintendent of Walton County Schools in the late 1970s.

Drake’s been raising campaign cash and rolled over his earlier bid for a third term into his current operation. While this isn’t an expensive part of the state to campaign in, Drake’s fundraising hasn’t exactly impressed. Since starting his campaign in January 2011, he has raised $95,100 through the end of December. Granted, money goes a long way in Northwest Florida compared to other parts of the state, but Drake has already gone through more than half of what he has taken in. By the end of December, Drake had burned through more than $49,500 of his campaign cash.

Democrats outnumber Republicans here but they are conservatives and the district should be safe for the GOP. While 47 percent of voters here are Democrats and only 41 percent are Republicans, there are no Democrats in the race here. It’s pretty telling that Rick Scott took 62 percent of the vote here back in 2010.

Whoever wins the primary will at least face Libertarian Karen Schoen come November. While she had only around $500 in the bank at the end of the year, Schoen does have some experience, remaining active on issues, appearing on the radio and leading efforts against Agenda 21. She’ll be an underdog for sure against either Drake or Hooks but, if she is the only other candidate in the general election, she has a great chance to break 10 percent and at least make an impact. Schoen simply won’t have her name on the ballot and will at least try to make a campaign of it.

It was widely assumed in Tallahassee that Drake would simply cruise back to the Florida House. Drake still has a good chance of returning to Tallahassee but it won’t be a cakewalk by any stretch. This primary battle will be one to watch in August.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson writes exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (8)

Patti King
11:56PM JUL 28TH 2014
Before everyone starts parading for Jan Hooks they better look a little deeper in her closet! I know this woman personally....she professes to the "American Dream" and a person that cares for the children and the community. She cares only for "her own" and then she decides which of her own deserves her attention. The only care she has is how much she can put in her pocket. Ask this "caring" woman if it is true that she has a step-daughter from her husband's previous marriage and she has refused to allow any contact between her husband and his biological daughter and grandchildren. What really stinks is the fact that they live just minutes from this child and have never attempted to contact the daughter in 30 years!!!! What type woman can stand before the public and portray her love and concern for children, knowing full well that she is the reason her step daughter and the biological father can not have a relationship. Ask her who Wendi Hooks is to her and her husband. Her political advertisement says she "will always tell the truth". Let's see just how truthful she is about her 37 year old step daughter, who by the way is a Registered Nurse in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.
Karen Schoen
6:46PM MAY 12TH 2014
Karen Schoen, Libertarian Candidate will qualify by petition. Karen Schoen will be working for the people.
3:46PM JAN 26TH 2014
Drake is a pawn of the leadership and special interests that control Tallahassee and will not look out for the people back home. We need better than a recycled career politician.
Sue Botelho
1:18PM JAN 25TH 2014
You need to change the picture - that isn't Jan Hook's picture!
Nancy Smith
1:49PM JAN 25TH 2014
Apologies to Jan Hooks. We've replaced the photo. Thank you all for letting us know.

Nancy Smith
Sunshine State News
Robbie Fenn
1:08PM JAN 25TH 2014
That is not Jan Hooks in the photo. You pulled one of her agents pictures.
Steve Youell
12:39PM JAN 25TH 2014
That is not a picture of Jan Hooks.
8:50AM JAN 25TH 2014
I don't know too much about this race, but for my two-cents, I would go with the new fresh face, who is not the spawn of the Ruling Class.

It is better than flipping a coin.

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