Two more Republicans jumped into the 6th Congressional District contest Thursday, ensuring at least a three-way GOP primary there.
Freshman state Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, announced his intentions a day after Rep. John Mica, R-Orlando, declared he would run for re-election in theneighboring 7th Congressional District. Mica's move sets up a primary showdown with freshman Rep. Sandy Adams there.
Hours later, former federal prosecutor Ron DeSantis joined the CD 6 race.
Businessman Craig Miller was the first to file for that contest last week.
The 6th District, which stretches northeast of Orlando to include portions of Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties, is considered a "safe" Republican seat, with the GOP holding a +6 advantage in voter registration.
Costello, a dentist, formerly served as mayor of Ormond Beach for eight years. His state House district incorporates Volusia and Flagler counties.
"I am experienced and will be well-prepared to represent and serve [CD 6] in Washington, where I will be known as a passionate advocate for individual and 'states rights' who will work with all who share those values," Costello said in a statement.
DeSantis, from Ponte Vedra Beach, said, Im running for Congress to reverse Obamas big-government policies, to be faithful to the principles on which our nation was founded, and to make members of Congress play by the same rules as the rest of us."
Miller, who maintains a part-time residence in Ormond Beach and a home in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park, said he was "shocked" that no other Republicans had initially filed for CD 6.
"There is a strong base of Republicans in this district. Some very qualified people might be interested in serving," Miller told Sunshine State News just prior to DeSantis' announcement.
The three candidates, all military veterans, stake out similarly conservative positions on fiscal and social issues.
Costello said, "While I will sign no pledges, I will support tax reform and cutting, capping and balancing our federal budget.
"Just as I did with my mayoral service, I will voluntarily limit my congressional service to no more than eight years," he said.
Patricia Sullivan, head of the statewide Tea Party Network, said Costello is "an active participant" in weekly tea party caucus calls at the Legislature.
DeSantis, a first-time political candidate and lifelong Floridian, refers to himself as a "Reagan conservative." He authored the 2011 book, "Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama."
Miller, after dropping his brief run for U.S. Senate this year, entered the CD 6 race and received the endorsement of New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer.
The former Ruth's Chris CEO said his business experience gives him an advantage.
"The main distinction is my work in creating jobs. I have years and years of knowing firsthand what oppressive big-government does to employers and small businesses," Miller said.
Miller finished a close third in a hard-fought GOP congressional primary contest with Adams and Karen Diebel in 2010.
Contact Kenric Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 801-5341.