Eric Eisnaugle is looking to get back to the Florida House and he had an impressive 2013 to set the stage for a probable return to Tallahassee come November.
The Central Florida Republican is certainly a known commodity in Tallahassee. Eisnaugle was elected in 2008 and appeared on the fast track to leadership, including serving as vice chairman of the Economic Development Policy Committee in his second term. He alsochaired the high-profile Civil Justice Committee and vice-chaired Rules and Calendar.
Eisnaugle was also a favorite of social conservatives. His wife, fellow attorney Carrie Eisnaugle, serves as president of Florida Right to Life.
But, after redistricting, Eisnaugle stepped aside in 2012 in favor of a more senior Republican -- namely Steve Precourt who served as majority leader in 2013. With Precourt facing term limits in 2014, Eisnaugles chances of returning to the Florida House to represent parts of Orange County look very probable.
Rolling over the funds left from the 2012 campaign he pulled the plug on, by the end of November 2013, Eisnaugle raised more than $166,250. He has been very frugal with his money so far, spending less than $9,450. Eisnaugle has garnered the support of many prominent Republicans who are trying to keep other candidates -- namely Winter Garden City Commissioner Bobby Olszewski -- out of the race. Eisnaugle also chased off businessman and pastor Ronney Olivera who ran against Democrat Randolph Bracy for a House seat representing Orange County back in 2012.
With a pretty solid grip on the Republican nomination, for the moment, Eisnaugle has the luxury of waiting to see which Democrat emerges in the primary to take him on in November. Business owner Shaun Raja entered the race at the end of August and he has some interesting ideas on ensuring education will help prepare students for jobs and to help out small businesses. But Rajas fundraising has been pathetic. He raised $500 early on and spent almost every cent of it. By the end of November, Raja had $6 in the bank.
Walt Disney World employee Lee Douglas is also running for the Democratic nomination and, like Raja, he has yet to impress in the money chase. In the first month of his campaign, Douglas didnt raise a dime, choosing to rely on $750 he loaned his campaign. Douglas is calling to implement the Internet sales tax, the end of the FCAT and for tax relief for the middle class.
Having apparently cleared the decks of potential Republican rivals and facing a pair of weak Democrats so far, Eisnaugle is a strong favorite to hold this seat for the GOP. With his previous terms in the House, dont be surprised if Eisnaugle is a candidate to move into the Republican leadership.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.