With state Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice, facing term limits next year, Dr. Julio Gonzalez, an orthopedic surgeon from Venice, is off to an impressive head start as he looks to represent parts of Sarasota County.
A native Floridian and the son of exiles who fled Castros communist regime in Cuba, Gonzalez, a veteran of the Navy Reserve who also served as the chief of staff at Venice Regional Medical Center, filed his paperwork in November to run for Holders seat. So far, his fundraising has been solid but certainly not insurmountable. Between Nov. 13 when he entered the race and March 31, the end of the first quarter of 2013, Gonzalez has raised more than $40,000, relied on more than $1,000 through in-kind donations and spent more than $3,400.
A self-described conservative, Gonzalez offers his services an expert witness in legal cases dealing with medial treatment and medical staff. He is currently finishing his law degree at Stetson Universitys law school as a part-time student.
Gonzalez is the only candidate in the race so far, but sources tell Sunshine State News that they expect other candidates to jump in. The seat is generally considered safe for Republicans. Holder did not have opposition in the general election when he ran for a fourth and final term in 2012.
While he has not yet drawn any opposition, Gonzalez is remaining busy on the campaign trail with events in North Port and Englewood in the weeks to come. Hes also starting to go outside the district for money, holding fundraising events in Coral Gables, for example.
There are signs that Gonzalezs efforts are starting to pay off as local Republican leaders begin to support him. Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight has thrown his weight behind Gonzalez. So has former Florida state Sen. Lisa Carlton, former Venice Mayor Fred Hammett and current Sarasota County Commissioners Charles Hines and Christine Robinson and Charles Hines .
I am humbled by the overwhelming support I have received in my efforts to be the next representative for District 74, Gonzalez insists. It is a testament to the need for a conservative and principled addition to the Florida Legislature that will show great regard for the people's purse and work to keep the power of the state in check.
While Holder is facing term limits in 2014, he is showing no signs of heading to the political sidelines. He has already filed to run for the Florida Senate when Nancy Detert, R-Venice, faces term limits in 2018.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News.