Latvala launches campaign for governor

By Lloyd Dunkelberger


News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE | State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, joined the 2018 race for governor on Friday, filing papers to make his campaign official.

“My papers were filed by 5-year-old Rays fan Cooper Bishop!” Latvala tweeted shortly after noon, including a picture of the smiling boy in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform holding the candidate’s paperwork.

Latvala, 65, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, is a veteran lawmaker, serving 15 years during two stints in the Senate. He was first elected in 1994 and returned in 2010.

Friday’s announcement was not a surprise. He will formally kick off his campaign on Wednesday, with stops in Hialeah, Clearwater and Panama City.

Since the 2017 session ended, Latvala has been crisscrossing the state, with a meeting this week in Palm Beach County to talk about the opioid crisis and an appearance in Blountstown last week to talk about the need for more economic development in rural regions.

On Friday, Latvala was in Steinhatchee, where he has a home, for another economic roundtable. On Sunday, he will be on a political talk show hosted by an Orlando television station.

“As a small business owner and public servant, I have a track record of getting things done and solving problems,” Latvala said in a statement announcing his Wednesday itinerary. “One thing you can always expect from me too is when I give you my word, I will keep it.”