While he has his eye on making a bid to serve as the president of the Florida Senate after the 2016 elections, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, has to first hold off a Republican primary challenger and defeat a Democratic candidate in November -- and the veteran legislator appears to be in excellent shape to keep his seat.
Latavala is a familiar face in the Florida Senate having first been elected to it in 1994. He served two terms, rising to become majority leader before bowing out in 2002. Latvala returned to the Senate in 2010. While he currently represents parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, after redistricting Latvala is running in SD 20, a seat that represents parts of Pinellas County.
As he looks to win another term and keep his Senate presidential ambitions alive, Latvala has compiled an impressive war chest. So far in this election cycle, Latvala has raised more than $455,000 -- of which $290,000 came in the second half of 2011 and around $25,500 for the first half of 2012 -- and spent more than $162,750.
Standing in Latvalas path for the Republican nomination is Zahid Roy, a businessman from Clearwater who is calling for less regulations and smaller government. Since entering the race in April, Roy has not raised any contributions, instead relying on $2,800 loaned to the campaign. Roy has burned through most of that amount, spending more than $2,730, leaving little in the final weeks until the Aug. 14 primary.
Whoever emerges from the Republican primary will face author and activist Ashley Rhodes-Courter, the Democratic nominee in the race. Honored by several national organizations for being active on childrens issues, Rhodes-Courter wrote about her experiences in the foster-care system and her adoption in "Three Little Words" which appeared on the bestseller lists back in 2008. She is expecting her first biological child in early November, around the time of the election.
While Rhodes-Courter is portraying her life as the quintessential American success story there is little reason to think she will be offering much of a challenge in November based on her first financial reports. Since entering the race in early June, Rhodes-Courter has raised no contributions and relied on $2,000 in loans. So far, Rhodes-Courter has spent almost $1,800 of that amount.
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