Tea Party Leader to Seek Clay Ford Seat
Around the State
Mike Hill, president of the Northwest Florida Tea Party and a 2010 Republican Primary candidate for the Florida Senate, confirmed Thursday he will seek the House seat left vacant following the death of Rep. Clay Ford, R-Pensacola.
Hill said he will wait to announce formally until after Ford's funeral, and after Gov. Rick Scott has set a date for the special election. But he'll begin right away to assemble a campaign team.
Hill, 54, told Sunshine State News Wednesday night that he was "leaning toward running, but I don't make any kind of family decision like that until my wife and I go to church and pray about it."
A State Farm insurance agent in Pensacola, he lost to heavily financed Sen. Greg Evers in the 2010 GOP District 2 Senate primary, but he said he has remained "politically inclined" since the 2010 cycle. He described himself as a "free-market, limited-government, lower-taxes, personal-freedom, individual-responsibility" kind of conservative.
"In fact," he said, "I think I'm more passionate about limited government now than when I ran for office three years ago."
"I'm an open book," admitted Hill. "A lot of people know who I am." He said he has been watching and cheerleading for the bills now before the Legislature on tort reform and the depopulation of Citizens Property Insurance ("We've got to get Citizens under control," he said, "it's crazy.").
Hill is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and served 10 years' active duty. His military honors include being selected as the Armament Division Company Grade Officer of the Year at Eglin AFB Florida in 1988.
He began his civilian career as an insurance agent in Fort Walton Beach and now runs a State Farm agency in Pensacola. He also has an MBA from the University of West Florida.
Hill actively serves on several boards in the community and across the state, and was selected in 2010 by the Florida Chamber to serve on the Florida Chamber Foundation's Six Pillars Caucus system as a member of the Business Climate and Competitiveness Caucus.
He has been married to his wife Greta for 30 years. They have three children: Joshua, 20, a sophomore at the University of West Florida; and high schoolers Jessica, 18 and Jonathan, 17.
Though rumors are circulating that Dave Murzin, an aide in Evers' Pensacola office who also ran in the Republican Senate primary in 2010, is considering a run for the vacant House seat, Murzin discounted them Wednesday night.
"I haven't given it a lot of consideration," Murzin explained in a telephone interview. "I'm only interested in serving the people in Senate District 2, quite honestly."
Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews or at (850) 727-0859.