With State Representative Tom Goodson announcing that he will instead seek office in Brevard’s District 51, candidates emerge to replace him.
By Jacob Engels
Earlier today, Frank Torres, who operates the website Orlando Politics, reported that State Representative Tom Goodson would not be seeking re-election in House District 50… and not running for Andy Gardiner’s senate seat as some expected. Goodson, instead will run for House District 51 in 2016, the seat currently held by Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli, who will be termed out. Sources tell us that Goodson’s choice to run in the Brevard only district set him up for a congressional run further down the road when Congressman Bill Posey retires, if he does.
Businessman and entrepreneur Chadwick Hardee, a registered Republican and activist, who ran for school board in 2014, had previously expressed interest in running for State House in District 50, but only if Goodson retired or ran in another race.
“My wife and I are extremely flattered by the encouragement I have received over the past few months as we have looked at what this campaign would mean for our family. Representative Goodson’s decision to run in District 51 is not what we expected…but makes the decision to run very easy. Tallahassee needs a lot more action and a lot less partisan back and forth.”
Hardee, whose business focuses on primarily the hospitality industry, boasts some impressive clients that Westgate Resorts and Wyndham Hotels, which could help him in the fundraising game during a state house campaign.
“We learned a lot from the last campaign and know we need to start earlier this time and make sure we have the funds necessary to reach victory.” Hardee tells us that he is close to filling and has been fielding calls from donors and friends throughout the day who have been invigorated by Goodson’s choice to run in 51.
Sean Ashby, Timber Creek High School teacher and 2012 Democratic nominee for House District 50 said that he surprised to see Goodson filing in 51.
“I hope that during his remaining time as our representative, he continues to serve the needs of the citizens in East Orange county.” Asked whether or not he would consider another bid for office in 2016, Ashby kept it close to the vest and said that it’s a big decision.
“It’s an honor that I have been mentioned to run for this seat again. Any campaign decisions with the campaign have to be made with the support of family and friends as we look to the future.”
Ashby, who has spent the past 4 years as a rising star within the Orange County Democratic Party, ran the campaign to push partisan elections last election cycle and considered a run against incumbent Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson in District 4. In his first bid for office in 2012, Ashby raised just over $12,000 against almost $500,000 from Tom Goodson and the Republican Party. He came within in 3,000 votes out of almost 80,000 cast, winning Orange County and enjoying the support of fellow teacher Rene Plasencia, who had just lost to Marco Pena in District 49. Plasencia now serves as the State Representative in District 49, having beat incumbent Democratic legislator Joe Saunders by just over 700 votes in 2014.
Now, it seems like the two could meet on different terms.
A source tells us that he will elect to file papers to run in District 50, instead of seeking re-election in his current district. Observers have noted that it would be a hard district for Republicans to hold onto in 2016, with House District 50 being much more GOP friendly. Plasencia would lose the Hispanic electorate he has done so well pulling from with a switch to 50, which has far less registered Hispanic voters across all affiliations.
An announcement from Plasencia is expected very soon and could create a scenario where former State Representative Joe Saunders considers mounting a comeback in the Democratic leaning district.
Plasencia’s choice to run could set up a potential proxy fight between State Representative Eric Eisnaugle, who is set to be Speaker of the House in 2020 and Tampa area State Representative Blaise Ingoglia…who is rumored to be considering challenging Eisnaugle for the speakership. If Hardee does not decide to step aside for Plasencia and causes a GOP primary, you could see Eisnaugle throwing his support behind Plasencia and Ingoglia diverting his resources to Hardee, hoping to open pick off a member pledged to Eisnaugle and gain a vote for his candidacy for speaker. That is if he really is running, which has not been confirmed.
And if Plasencia pushes through the primary, he could potentially face an old friend in Ashby, who he openly supported against Republican Tom Goodson in 2012.
I guess we will just have to wait and see who actually files for what. Time to put up or shut up gents!
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org