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A Panama City lawmaker is ready for a new job in the Florida Senate

Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, debates against an amendment to his [property insurance bill at the Capitol in Tallahassee, FL.
Phil Sears
/
AP
Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, debates against an amendment to his [property insurance bill at the Capitol in Tallahassee, FL.

Florida Republican Senate leaders Tuesday quickly endorsed House Appropriations Chairman Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, to succeed Sen. George Gainer, who announced he will not run for re-election in November.

Trumbull also quickly launched a campaign in Northwest Florida’s Senate District 2, as the candidate-qualifying period for this year’s elections looms next week.

“Our Panhandle values of faith, family, and freedom are the key to Florida’s present economic boom,” Trumbull said in a prepared statement. “To sustain that prosperity long term, I’ll fight to lower taxes, protect our environment and fight for the lives of the unborn. I have and will continue to stand with Governor DeSantis to push back against the federal overreach that threatens our constitutional rights and preserve our focus on freedom in our great state.”

Gainer, a Panama City Republican who was first elected to the Senate in 2016, announced Monday that he will not run for another term. In an interview with WMBB News 13, Gainer pointed to issues such as health problems involving his back.

““It was just time,” he said in the television interview. “I need to spend a little time with my family and with my friends and stuff that I enjoy doing.”

Trumbull cannot seek re-election to the House this year because of term limits. As the House’s chief budget writer, Trumbull has been a top lieutenant to Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor. During a special legislative session last month, he led efforts to pass changes in the property-insurance system.

Senate President Wilton Simpson, incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Sen. Ben Albritton, who is slated to become Senate president in 2024, issued statements Tuesday supporting Trumbull’s bid to replace Gainer.

"George has fought for families and small business owners and laid the groundwork for the next generation of great public servants like Jay Trumbull,” Passidomo, R-Naples, said. “I’m confident that Jay will carry on the rich North Florida tradition of fighting for more freedom and less government.”

Gainer, who made a fortune as an auto dealer and also served 18 years on the Bay County Commission, had opened a campaign account to run for re-election to the Senate in November. But he reported raising only $5,500 during the first five months of the year.

Other candidates with open accounts as of Tuesday morning were Republican Regina LaVon Piazza and Democrat Carolynn Zonia. The candidate-qualifying period will start Monday and continue until June 17.

The boundaries of District 2, a Republican stronghold, were redrawn this year as part of the once-a-decade reapportionment process. It is made up of Bay, Calhoun, Jackson, Washington, Holmes, Walton and part of Okaloosa counties.