It's a Safe Bet Fred Costello is Headed Back to Tallahassee

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: February 12, 2014 3:55 AM
Fred Costello

Fred Costello

Fred Costello is looking to get his old job back and he has old allies in Tallahassee wanting to help him.

After working as a dentist and a captain in the Air Force, Costello established strong roots in Ormond Beach politics, serving for more than a decade on the City Commission and eventually as mayor. Costello also was active at the county level, chairing both the Volusia Transportation Planning Organization and the Volusia Council of Governments.

This service helped Costello considerably when he set his sights on running for the Florida House in 2010. Raising more than $282,500, Costello easily defeated two rivals in the Republican primary and crushed the Democrat by more than 20 percent in the general election.

After redistricting in 2012, Costello started running for the new congressional district ranging from outside of Jacksonville down to Daytona Beach. Costello emerged as the major alternative to Ron DeSantis but, when the dust settled, he placed a distant second. DeSantis led the seven-candidate field with 39 percent and Costello took 23 percent.

It looked as if Costello, who is now 64, was at the end of the line but he’s set for a second shot in Tallahassee. Dave Hood replaced Costello in the House but he’s now running for a judgeship. Costello filed to run for the House last week and he is brandishing some big names as supporters, including the leadership in Tallahassee with Will Weatherford in his corner and Steve Crisafulli and Richard Corcoran, who are both set to become House speakers in the future, already endorsing him.

Costello is not the only former House member looking for his old job back. Eric Eisnaugle and Brad Drake have been running hard for the last year after bowing out of their 2012 races due to redistricting. While it’s hard to imagine Costello as a future House speaker, he will certainly have some experience which should help him move up the leadership ladder.

With Hood out of the mix, Costello is now the only candidate running for that House seat. Despite his loss to DeSantis, Costello starts as a heavy favorite. He is a proven winner in Volusia County and showed in 2010 that he could raise money. With the Republican leadership in his corner, Costello should be in good shape. While it’s not quite the district he represented when he was elected in 2010, Costello is a good fit for this Republican-leaning district where Rick Scott outdrew Alex Sink by 9 percent. 

When the year stated, Costello didn’t seem like a strong candidate for a political comeback, but things have fallen his way. Now Costello looks like a safe bet to head back to Tallahassee.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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