Primary and general election candidates expected to qualify this week


Qualifying week for most local, county, state and national election candidates for this year’s Aug. 23 primary and Nov. 8 general election is scheduled for June 13 to 17.

Some local races, such as the nonpartisan Sarasota County School Board, can be decided in the Aug. 23 primary.

Other key races will be set for an Aug. 23 primary — particularly partisan races such as the Sarasota County Commission, the state Senate and House races, as well as for governor — with the best party winners who will face each other in the November 8 general election.

In case you missed it:Sarasota School Board denies for-profit charter request for school near Wellen Park

And:Siesta Key leader Mark Smith competes in District 2 County Commission race

Qualifying begins Monday noon and ends Friday noon. Candidates must pay a fee, submit petitions from registered voters in lieu of the fee, and submit required documents during the period.

A local race on a different timeline is the nonpartisan Venice City Council, which will have four council seats in the November ballot. Venice Qualifying Week runs from August 23 at noon to August 26 at noon.

Equally important, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner – in an open letter posted on – urges Sarasota County voters to check their voter status online and make changes if needed.

The voter registration deadline for the Aug. 23 primary is July 25. Because Florida is a closed primary state, only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in partisan races during the primary. Currently, there are 149,927 registered Republicans, 100,856 Democrats and 96,027 voters who are unaffiliated with either party.

In Manatee County, there are 120,020 registered Republicans; 79,002 Democrats; and 74,642 voters who are not affiliated with any party.

Manatee voters can check their status at

Congress Races

US Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, , of which Dist. 16 now encompasses Manatee County and part of Hillsborough County, will face a primary challenge against Martin Hyde, while Democrat Jan Schneider is the only registered Democrat to run in that district.

U.S. Representative Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, whose Dist. 17 now encompasses all of Sarasota and Charlotte counties and part of Lee County, currently does not face a primary challenger. Democrats Andrew Bevan and Andrea Doria Kale will face off in the primary, while nonpartisan affiliate Theodore “Pink Tie” Murray paid the qualifying fee to run in the general election.

State legislative races

Republican State Senate Dist. 22 holder Joe Gruters, who represents Sarasota County and part of Manatee, currently has no primary opponent. Unaffiliated candidate Robert Samuel Kaplan has yet to qualify for the general election and no Democrats have shown up to run for the seat.

Republican incumbent in the state’s 20th District Senate, Jim Boyd, will face a main event fight against John Houman, while Michael Harvey Sr, is the only Democrat in the race.

In the State House races, Republican incumbent Will Robinson, District 71; Fiona McFarland; James Buchanan, District74 and Michael Grant; District 74; as well as Tommy Gregory, who moved to District 72, currently have no primary opponents.

Democrat Derek Richard Reich filed a nomination against McFarland, and unaffiliated affiliate candidate Connor Jacob Trombley filed a nomination against Buchanan, but neither qualified.

In State House District 70, Republicans Mike Beltran and Dennis Cooley would face a main battle, while Eleuterio “Junior” Salazar Jr. is the only Democrat so far.

Non-partisan races

All registered voters can weigh in in the nonpartisan race for the Sarasota County School Board, where Districts 1, 4 and 5 seats are on the ballot.

In District 1, incumbent Bridget Ziegler will face challenger Dawnyelle Singleton; District 4 has Lauren Kurnov facing Robyn Marinelli; and District 5 has Nora Cietek facing Timothy Enos – although three other candidates have filed for the seat but are technically listed as active retirees.

In Manatee County, the school board seats for Districts 2, 4, and 5 are on the ballot.

In District 1, Susan Agruso, Harold E. Byrd Jr. and Cindy Spray are all on the ballot. In District 4, incumbent Chad Choate is set to take on Garin C, Hoover. In District 5, incumbent James T. Golden will take on Richard William Tatem and Chantal Wilford.

Departmental commission races

The Sarasota County Commission seats for Districts 2 and 4 will be on the ballot only for voters in those districts.

District 2 incumbent Republican Christian Zieger has not yet filed for a second term, while two other Republicans, Lourdes Ramirez and Mark Smith, have filed and will be in the Aug. 23 primary ballot. Democrats Fredd Atkins, Hagen Brody and Mike Cosentino are also in the running and will face each other in the primary.

In District 4, Republicans Mark Hawkins and Joe Neunder have both filed, while only one Democrat, Daniel Kuether, has filed so far.

Two Sarasota City General Commission seats are on the Aug. 23 primary ballot. Incumbent Jen Ahearn-Koch will be joined on the ballot by Dan Lobeck, Debbie Trice, Sheldon Rich, Terrill Salem and Carl Shoffstall.

The top three voters in the primary will qualify for the general election in November, with the top two winning seats on the city commission.

In North Port, where Districts 4 and 5 are up for election, a primary is guaranteed in District 5, where David Pankiw, Phillip Stokes and Victor Dobrin are on the ballot. If one of these candidates obtains 50% of the votes plus one, he will win the seat outright. Otherwise, the first two go to the November ballot.

So far, only incumbent Mayor Pete Emrich has filed for District 4. If no one files to oppose him, he would automatically be elected.

Three Manatee County Commission seats are on the ballot: Districts 2, 4, and District 6, which is at-large.

In District 2, incumbent Democrat Reggie Bellamy faces Charles B. Smith in the primary; while Amanda Ballard is the only Republican to file so far.

In District 4, Republican incumbent Misty Servia is set to face a primary against Mike Rahn; independent Timothy Norwood and write-in candidate Daniel Hansen ran in the general election.

In District 6, incumbent Republican Carol Whitmore would face a main event fight against Jason Bearden and Carol Ann Felts. Written candidates Robert Lesher and Manuel Antonio Llamas are filed.

Sarasota Charter Review and Hospital Boards

Only one of Sarasota County’s five Charter Review Board seats is currently set for a primary race — District 1, where Republican Alexandra Coe will face Les Nichols. Democrat Nancy M. H Simpson is currently unopposed. For other district races, Republicans G. Matthew Brockway, Andrew Kirby, Clayton W. Taylor and Joe Justice currently have no primary opposition — or Democratic opposition — in Districts 2, 3, 4 and 5, respectively.

Currently, only Republicans have filed for Sarasota County Hospital Board Joseph J. DeVirgilio Jr. in Seat 2 of the Central District; Jim Meister in Seat 1 of the Northern District; Richard Rehmeyer in Seat 2 of the Northern District; Darryl Henry in Seat 1 of the Southern District; and Gregory Carter in Seat 2 of the Southern District.

Earle Kimel primarily covers southern Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.


Comments are closed.