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Joe Negron Starts 2014 as Favorite Despite Two Challengers

December 25, 2013 - 6:00pm

Joe Negrons chances of being president of the Florida Senate after the 2016 elections remain up in the air. But, as 2013 draws to a close, his odds for retaining his Senate seat in 2014? Excellent.

A veteran of Tallahassee elected to the Florida House in 2000, Negron, an attorney from Martin County, has already tasted some power in the Legislature. From 2005-2006, Negron led the Appropriations Committee in the House.

But it wasnt all roses for Negron. Back in 2006, after Mark Foley resigned from Congress during allegations about an inappropriate relationship with a former congressional page, Republicans chose Negron as a replacement candidate. It was a tough assignment as Negron only had a month to campaign and Foleys name was still on the ballot. Negron lost to Democrat Tim Mahoney that November but, despite heavy odds against him, the Republican almost pulled it off. When the dust settled, Mahoney beat Negron by less than 2 percent of the votes cast.

Bouncing back to win a Senate seat in 2009, Negron can expect to spend coming months battling with Jack Latvala to become Senate president in 2016. Certainly Republican donors are placing their bets on Negron. Between January, when he filed to run in 2014, and the end of November, Negron has put together an impressive war chest, raising more than $355,600 and spending around $58,100.

Negrons strong fundraising gives him a bit of an edge over his rivals in 2014. Businessman Brandon Michael Cannon, a former arcade owner, is waging a primary battle against Negron, bashing the incumbent for his role in ending Internet cafes. Based out of St. Lucie, Cannon has raised less than $9,000 and loaned his campaign more than $15,300 since entering the race in May. Cannon has hit Negron on a host of fronts and is looking to peel libertarians and conservatives away from the incumbent. Hes an underdog, to be sure, but he is showing little hesitation in offering Negron a chance. One major concern for Cannons team has to be spending. The campaign has gone through almost $23,500 so far, leaving little in the bank.

A new Democratic candidate jumped into the race Monday. Former TV and radio personality Bruno Moore, best known for his work on traffic reports, is running for the Democratic nomination.

In a written statement issued Thursday evening, Moore said, if elected, hehopes to address these issues: curtailing gang activity and violence in the district, bringing high-paying jobs for everyone's benefit, raising the minimum wage and ensuring a healthy lagoon system.

Moore shows no hesitation in his willingness to go after the tea party, but its hard to imagine Democrats want him to be their standard bearer. In 2006, Moore was arrested on charges of trying to solicit sex with a 13-year-old girl he met online. A jury acquitted him, agreeing with his attorney who argued that, as they never met in person or agreed to meet, a crime did not take place. But, despite the verdict, its hard to imagine Democrats want Moore as their candidate.

Joe Negron will have his hands full in 2014 as he looks to get Republicans in the Senate to pledge their support. At home, on the other hand, Negron is golden. With the dawn of the new year, he remains a huge favorite to head back to Tallahassee.

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

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