Hey it’s Thursday so let’s talk some state politics for the heck of it
I’m feeling politically festive because Santa is delivering a made-for-Citrus fundraiser Thursday night for Senate President Wilton Simpson, who is running for state agriculture commissioner.
The event is at M&B Dairy in Lecanto, where owner Dale McClellan is a big Simpson supporter. Actually, many in the Citrus County political and business community are big Simpson supporters and they’ll be out in force to help the man who arguably is Citrus County’s most popular state senator move up on the political ladder.
The host committee includes Rebecca and Mike Bays. Rebecca is a former Citrus County commissioner who should be announcing any day she’s running in the new state House district (whatever that will look like) now that Rep. Ralph Massullo says he’s running in the new Senate district (whatever that will look like).
Also on the committee is Jennifer and J.J. Grow of Inverness. I wrote about the Grows in 2018 at the Chronicle when they built a bunkhouse for wounded military vets who participate in state-sponsored hunts.
And I mention them here because J.J.’s name has popped up recently as someone also considering a state House run.
Not on the host committee is another name I heard just Wednesday considering the House run. Plus there are two others who have already opened campaign accounts – Paul John Reinhardt and Nancy Sue Pierson.
All are Republicans except Pierson, who is a Democrat from Hernando. Reinhardt’s name is likely familiar to voters: He lost to Massullo while running as a Democrat in 2018, then tried superintendent of schools as a Republican against Sandra “Sam” Himmel and received 25% of the vote.
The point: Expect a crowded House field. Redistricting maps tend to favor a House district connecting Citrus with Levy County so it’s a new geography. And no incumbent means it’s anyone’s game.
And, yes, we’ll be breaking all that down as things progress.
Back to Sen. Simpson for a moment.
Citrus County sort of fell into him. Six years ago, then-Rep. Jimmie T. Smith was gearing for a run in a new Senate district that aligned Citrus with Marion County. When the state Supreme Court ordered new maps, the Citrus Senate district shifted south into Pasco County, where Wilton Simpson was not only the incumbent but already in line for Senate president.
Smith wisely stepped aside and Simpson was easily elected. At the time, he owned a vacation home in Homosassa and Citrus County would soon learn what it meant to have a Big Man on Campus as its senator. I don’t have the number, but between Simpson and Massullo, Citrus has received millions of dollars in state funding, particularly for sewer projects.
And, boy, talk about a name dropper. I’m not saying Simpson drops names, because he isn’t that way. I’m talking about others dropping HIS name. All the elected officials want you to know they’re buds with Wilton Simpson. I can’t blame them. This senator really gets things done.
Regardless of who is elected to the Senate in 2022, Citrus County is going to miss him. The community owes Simpson its gratitude.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.