Florida Backroom Briefing: Albritton Going All In

TALLAHASSEE — Incoming Senate President Ben Albritton said he’s prepared to do “whatever it takes” financially to protect a North Florida seat held by Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee.

Albritton’s comment confirmed that vast amounts of money could be pumped into the race in Senate District 3, which is expected to have one of the state’s most-competitive legislative elections in November. The largely rural District 3 is made up of 13 counties and includes the Democratic stronghold of Leon County.

“It’s a tough seat, but we have a huge amount of support. We are laser-focused on that,” Albritton, R-Wauchula, said during an appearance on The News Service of Florida’s “Deeper Dive with Dara Kam” podcast.

“We’re gonna have the resources to move the needle forward,” Albritton added.

Simon, a former Florida State University and NFL football player, captured the seat by knocking off former Sen. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, in 2022. Republicans and their allies poured money into winning the seat, which had long eluded them.

Pressed on what it could take to retain the seat in November — and help retain a GOP supermajority in the Senate — Albritton initially replied that a heavy investment could require $3 million to $4 million.

But he said it could go higher.

“Understand, when I say whatever it takes, if it’s five (million dollars), it’s five. If it’s seven it’s seven. If it’s 10, it’s 10,” Albritton said. “I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure Corey Simon comes back. He’s been so good to this district.”

Albritton chairs three political committees — Advancing Florida Agriculture, the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and Friends of Ben Albritton — that had a combined total of more than $23 million on hand as of March 31.

Tallahassee civil-rights attorney Daryl Parks and Kimblin Eugene Nesmith, both Democrats, have opened campaign accounts to try to unseat Simon. The candidates and political committees face a Monday deadline for filing updated finance reports.

A five-day qualifying period to run for legislative seats begins Monday.


Former Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy, who is running to try to return to the Senate in November, made a splash this week when he contended that incumbent Democrat Geraldine Thompson doesn’t live in the Orange County district.

Bracy argued Thompson’s homesteaded Windermere property should disqualify her from holding the District 15 seat and threatened legal action.

Bracy held a news conference Wednesday outside the Orange County Administration Building to outline a draft lawsuit. Thompson showed up and stood beside Bracy.

Thompson was elected to the seat in 2022, when Bracy unsuccessfully ran for Congress. Thompson also served in the Senate from 2012 to 2016 and in the House from 2006 to 2012 and from 2018 to 2022.

Thompson told the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday that she lives at her daughter’s home in Ocoee, which is in the district. She said her husband lives at the Windermere property they have owned for 36 years. Thompson is registered to vote in Ocoee.

Windermere is in Senate District 13, which is represented by Eustis Republican Dennis Baxley.

In Thompson’s 2022 financial-disclosure report and paperwork filed on the state elections site, the only listed address is an office suite in Orlando.

Lawmakers must be residents of their districts at the time of election. But the state Division of Elections says questions about residency should go to the Senate or House. It said each legislative chamber has “exclusive jurisdiction over the qualifications of its members.”


Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office doesn’t release his travel plans. But the former college baseball player might soon head to Omaha, Neb.

DeSantis said he and his 7-year-old son Mason might attend the College World Series if Florida State University or the University of Florida qualify. The teams will play in super-regional series this weekend.

“I got a little one here who’s a big fan, and if one or both makes it, you may see Mason and me in Omaha cheering on one of the Florida teams,” DeSantis, who played at Yale, said Tuesday while in Fort Myers.

The 10-day world series begins June 14.

SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE WEEK: “Former President Donald Trump hasn’t lost his voting rights in Florida. Rights are not removed in Florida where they haven’t yet been stripped in the convicting jurisdiction. That said, given the absurd nature of the New York prosecution of Trump, this would be an easy case to qualify for restoration of rights per the Florida Clemency Board, which I chair. The bottom line is that Donald Trump’s vote this November will be one of millions that demonstrate Florida is now a solid Republican state!” — Gov. Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis).

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