Pilon to File Today in District 72 (SRQ Daily)

Weeks after Ray Pilon watched a Democrat win the state House he held for years, the former state representative wants his old job back. Today, Pilon says he will turn in his papers to run for state House in District 72 against incumbent state Rep. Margaret Good. “I feel I can communicate with the 144,000 people in the district,” he says. “‘I’ve communicated with them before.”

The Republican served three terms in the House, from 2010 to 2016, before choosing to run for an open state Senate seat in 2016 instead of seeking a fourth consecutive term. Ultimately, Greg Steube, who’s served with Pilon in the House, won the Republican primary and general election in state Senate District 23. Meanwhile, Republican Alex Miller in 2016 won a two-year term the District 72 House District. But then after less than a year on the job, Miller resigned the post, triggering a special election in February. Amid record spending and turnout, Good won the special election to complete the remainder of Miller’s term.

Now Republicans will have to face an incumbent in November, but Pilon’s not worried about that. His first election to the state House came in 2010, when he defeated two-term incumbent Rep. Keith Fitzgerald. “Everybody told me I couldn’t do it and I did,” he says. “I never tell anybody they can’t win a race. I’m living proof that you can.”

He notes his public service predates his time in the Legislature. He served four years on the Sarasota County Commission, and before then worked as a deputy sheriff. “I’ve been connected to this community since 1975,” he says. That background directed him toward addressing criminal and juvenile justice reform while in the state House. But he also touts an environmental record. Once again, he plans to run as a moderate conservative, and wants to stress the value of the district being represented by a member of the majority party in Tallahassee. Democrats will likely remain in the minority in Tallahassee, he says, and representatives on the blue team won’t get as much accomplished at home.

Should he return to the House, Pilon will actually get to reboot a potential eight consecutive years in office before term limits end his time there. The former representative feels he would be able to go to Tallahassee better armed with knowledge of the capital workings than most freshman lawmakers boast. He already has a relationship with incoming Speaker of the House Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, and with numerous other lawmakers with whom he served through 2016.

Right now, Republican Alexandra Coe is filed to run in the district as well, but is also considering a county commission run. Other Republicans in the region have reportedly considered challenging Good, including James Buchanan, the Republican nominee in the special election. School Board chair Bridget Ziegler and County Commissioner Paul Caragiulo both tell SRQ they will not run. Good has already filed for re-election. 

Candidates for office must qualify by noon on June 22. A primary election, if needed, is scheduled for Aug. 28 and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 6.

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