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State Senators in North Florida Appear Headed for Easy Re-election Bids

July 15, 2012 - 6:00pm

Four incumbents in the Florida Senate representing the northern part of the state -- including the next Senate president -- are cruising to being re-elected in November, all with impressive war chests and little in the way of opposition.

In SD 1, Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, is slated to become president of the Florida Senate after November, provided he wins another term and the Republicans keep control. The GOP is in solid shape to keep the Senate and Gaetz appears to be on track for staying in Tallahassee.

Gaetz raised more than $160,000 in the second quarter of 2012 and spent almost $272,000. Despite that heavy spending, Gaetz continues to have a healthy campaign account. So far this campaign cycle, Gaetz has raised more than $632,000 and spent almost $354,000.

While he does not have any opposition in the Republican primary and will not face a Democrat in November, Gaetz does not have an open shot at a second term. Standing in Gaetzs way is tea party activist Richard Harrison who is running in November with no party affiliation. Harrison did not raise any money since entering the race at the end of May, loaned his campaign $2,000 and spent more than $1,600.

Gaetz is not the only Panhandle Republican in the Senate who looks like a lock to head back to Tallahassee. So does Sen. Greg Evers, R-Milton, in SD 2. In his bid for a second term, Evers has raised more than $238,000 and spent more than $140,000 so far in the 2012 election cycle. While Evers does face a write-in opponent in November in Joshua Haritgan of Pensacola, the senator --who was first elected to the Florida House in 2001 before jumping over to the Senate in 2010 --should be safe to continue his legislative career.

In SD 3, while Republicans defeated U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd in 2010, they will have problems knocking off another Democrat in the Big Bend area -- namely Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee. A longtime official in Tallahassees education system -- one with a school named after him -- Montford first won election to the Senate in 2010 and appears poised to remain there after November. Montford has won the backing of some members of the business community, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In November, Montford will face businessman John Shaw, who has the Republican nomination sewn up. The Democrat incumbent has a large financial advantage over Shaw. In the second quarter of 2012, Montford raised more than $10,500 and spent almost $16,500. But for the most part in the 2012 election cycle, Montfords kept his powder dry, giving him a healthy war chest to draw upon between now and November. So far, Montford has raised more than $162,000 and has spent more than $37,500 -- giving him around $125,000 to use in his bid for another term.

Since jumping in the race in April, Shaw has shown no signs of being able to compete with Montfords fundraising. In the second quarter, the Republican raised less than $2,900, loaned the campaign $725 and spent almost $1,800.

In SD 5, Sen. Charles Dean, R-Inverness, faces no opposition as he seeks another term in the Senate. First elected in 2007, Dean has raised more than $111,000 and has spent more than $4,000 so far this election cycle.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.


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