GOP Attorney Waylon Thompson Joins Bay County's Crowded House Race

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: August 2, 2013 3:55 AM

Jimmy Patronis and Waylon Thompson

Jimmy Patronis and Waylon Thompson | Patronis credit: myfloridahouse.gov

This week, Panama City attorney Waylon Thompson joined a crowded field of Republican candidates who are running for the Florida House seat currently held by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, who faces term limits in 2014.

Running for office for the first time, Thompson filed his paperwork Wednesday to run for the House seat, which represents most of Bay County. Talking to Sunshine State News on Thursday, Thompson pointed to his legal background, which includes being Florida Board Trial certified, as he looks to represent “the big client Bay County” in Tallahassee.

Saying he was approached by leaders in the community to run, Thompson stressed his conservatism. “I am a conservative Republican lawyer,” he said. “I’m a Christian, a family man and a small-business owner.” Thompson also cited his work in the community, including coaching Little League and youth basketball as well as his work with the Chamber of Commerce.

Thompson said, if elected, he would fight for less regulations on business to help grow the economy. “The main issue is the economy,” he said.

Thompson also said, if elected, he would urge the Legislature to “proceed slowly” in enacting President Barack Obama’s federal health care law, including the expansion of Medicaid mandated by the law. Thompson said the state should be very careful if it chooses to rely on federal funds.

Noting he is a plaintiffs attorney, Thompson rejected stereotypes that all such lawyers are liberals and anti-business. He insisted business leaders from the area will back his candidacy. “I’d encourage people to not label, to get to know the candidates,” he said.

Thompson joins what is currently the most crowded legislative contest in Florida. There are five other candidates already running for the Republican nomination: Panama City attorney and engineer Mark Anderson who teaches at Florida State; congressional staffer Tho Bishop; businesswoman Melissa Hagan who currently serves as Gulf Coast State College’s director of development; former Bay County School Board member Thelma Rohan; and radio show host Brian Rust. On the Democratic side, there are two candidates: Jamie Shepard, who had been the president of the Bay County League of Women Voters; and activist Ryan Singleton.

Bay County is a traditional bastion of Republican support. Mitt Romney took 71 percent there in November and, while he was trounced across the state by Bill Nelson in the Senate race, Connie Mack pulled almost 60 percent in Bay County in 2012.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.


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