Doc Renuart can expect to face an old foe in November: Rebecca Sue Sharp is angling for a rematch with the First Coast legislator.
Renuart is off and running for his fourth term in the Florida House. If he wins in November, Renuart will face term limits in 2016.
An osteopathic physician who rose to the rank of colonel in the Florida National Guard, Renuart has been slowly moving up the leadership ladder. He was the vice chair of the K-12 Subcommittee last year and led the Veteran and Military Affairs Subcommittee in the recently concluded session. He also sits on the Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, the Health and Human Services Committee, the Health Innovation Subcommittee and still sits on the K-12 Subcommittee.
After redistricting in 2012, Renuart lost his base in Duval County with his new district containing Ponte Vedra and parts of St. Johns County, including St. Augustine. Renuart had to hold off two conservative challengers in the Republican primary in 2012, taking 39 percent while Mike Davis took 31 percent and Kim Kendall got 30 percent.
After winning the primary, Renuart had to take on Sharp, who had been active with the regional Republican Liberty Caucus. Looking to run to Renuarts right, Sharp backed a trimmer state budget, education reform and reduced salaries for state officials. Sharp had been planning to challenge Renuart in the Republican primary but bolted the GOP.
In the general election, Renuart ran off with a big win with 72.5 percent, beating Sharp by almost 40,000 votes. Shes now back for a rematch, but Renuart appears to be better positioned this time.
Unlike 2012, Renuart doesnt have a primary challenger yet. While he hasnt assembled the most impressive of campaign war chests -- bringing in $67,900 by the start of session -- he hasnt really needed to so far in the campaign. Renuart has generally been supported by the business community during his previous three legislative runs. He should be able to count on its support this time out, as well, as he moves into his final term.
Sharp filed to run against Renuart last week, once again with no party affiliation.
To be sure, Renuart is probably stronger in the northern part of his district than the southern part, though thats also where Sharp is based. Davis, who is far better known in St. Augustine than Renuart was, and Kendall still took 60 percent against him in the primary. But nobodys emerged yet to challenge Renuart in the primary and the window is starting to close. As of now, Renuart should be working up much less of a sweat this summer than he did two years ago. But keep an eye on the Republican primary here in 2016 as candidates run in what is a very safe GOP district.
Tallahassee-based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.