With qualifying next week for the November elections, new candidates are emerging for state House races --- including to challenge incumbent lawmakers. Republican House members Jayer Williamson, Brad Drake and Ralph Massullo and Democrat Ben Diamond have drawn challengers in recent days, while other new candidates have opened campaign accounts to run for open House seats. Crestview Democrat Angela Hoover opened an account Monday to run against Williamson, R-Pace, in House District 3, which is made up of parts of Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties, according to the state Division of Elections website. Williamson had raised $114,700 for his reelection bid as of April 30, a finance report shows. In nearby House District 5, Freeport Democrat Anita Huffman opened a campaign account to challenge Drake, R-Eucheeanna. As of April 30, Drake had raised $86,732 for his reelection bid in the district, which is made up of Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington and part of Bay counties. Meanwhile, Hernando Democrat Dushyant Jethagir Gosai opened an account to run against Massullo, R-Lecanto, in House District 34, which is made up of Citrus County and part of Hernando County. Massullo had raised $51,625 for his campaign as of April 30. In the Tampa Bay area, St. Petersburg Republican Matt Tito opened an account to challenge Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, in Pinellas County’s House District 68. Diamond had raised $144,363 as of April 30. Among open seats, Orlando Democrat Alex Taylor opened an account to try to succeed Rep. Amy Mercado, D-Orlando, in Orange County’s House District 48. Mercado is running for Orange County property appraiser this year. Also, Democrat Linda Tripp opened an account to try to succeed term-limited Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, in House District 55, which is made up of Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee and part of St. Lucie counties. In Southwest Florida, Naples Republican Drew-Montez Clark opened an account to run in House District 80, which is made up of Hendry County and part of Collier County. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, is running for Congress this year instead of seeking another term in the state House. The qualifying period for state races will start at noon Monday and continue until noon on June 12.
*News Service Florida
Photo by: Getty Images