While its still early in the 2014 election cycle, Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach, is already facing challengers on the left and right. But Tobia has been here before, holding off a primary challenge and winning the general election in 2012.
First elected to the Florida House in 2008, Tobia currently represents parts of Brevard County and sits on the Finance and Tax Subcommittee, the Health and Human Services Committee and the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.
Tobia has already drawn two opponents in Republican primary challenger Timothy Street and Democrat Santa Isabel Wright.
Wright, who ran for county commission last year, said Tobia was not getting the job done in Tallahassee. I feel the community has a big need that the current representative isnt fulfilling, she told Sunshine State News on Monday.
Pointing to her three decades in health care administration, Wright said she was an active part of the Brevard County community, something she insists the Republican incumbent cant claim. Mr. Tobia is not part of the community, she said. Its time for a Democrat to step in and change whats going on.
Wright called for more money to go to education to pay teachers more and to enhance technology. Citing her experience, Wright said Medicaid and Medicare need to be streamlined so patients with terminal illnesses can draw on those programs immediately.
Ripping Tobia for being an ineffective representative, Wright insisted Brevard County was set to flourish. Brevard County has the potential to be like a Miami, a high-power town, she said. We need to move with the times.
Businessman Street, a veteran of the Marine Corps who also worked in federal law enforcement, filed his paperwork to run for the Florida House last week. As he makes his first bid for office, Street pointed to his wide array of experience as a sign he is not a career politician. I never for a million years thought I would get involved in politics, he said.
Speaking to Sunshine State News on Monday, Street noted he had two young daughters and he did not feel secure about where the state and nation appear to be headed in the years to come. They have $40,000 in debt before they were even born, he said about his daughters.
Street said he was a conservative who supported limited government, personal freedoms and stood against abortion. He said he hoped his campaign would galvanize conservatives in the district and across the state. There arent enough strong conservatives involved in the process, he said.
So far, Tobia has raised $22,350 in cash and loaned his campaign $5,000. His campaign has spent more than $13,250 as of June 30. Wright raised only $5 from Feb. 8 through March 31 and she filed a waiver for the second quarter fundraising reporting.
While Democrats have a slight registration advantage -- 39 percent of voters here are Democrats and 38 percent are Republicans -- the GOP often has the edge here. Rick Scott took 51 percent here in 2010 while Democrat Alex Sink mustered 44 percent. Tobia survived a close race in 2012 as teacher John Paul Alvarez came within 5 percent of beating the incumbent. While he relied on Barack Obamas and Bill Nelsons coattails last year, Alvarez will not be looking to run against Tobia. Alvarez is running for an open House seat in South Florida.
Sunshine State News spoke to staff for Tobia and left messages for him by phone and email but he did not respond.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.