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The Republican primary for Florida House District 2 seat is a three-person race

In Florida District 3, Jayer Williamson decided not to run for a forth term in the Florida House of Representatives. Alex Andrade, the representative in District 2 is seeking a third term.

So has Andrade given any thoughts about walking away from his District 2 seat?

“I mean there’s always thoughts,” said Andrade. “But no, I’m still proud of the work that we’ve been doing, the momentum that Florida is seeing, the growth and success and I’m committed to serving in this role as long as I could.”

Andrade is one of three candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the Florida House seat in District 2. He is being challenged by Jordan Karr and Greg Litton in this month's primary election.

One of Andrade’s points of pride is the work he has done for education in the state serving as the House majority whip for the Education & Employment Committee. He points to the work that the committee and the full legislature have done for Florida’s schools and students.

“(First), getting kids back into school after COVID,” said Andrade. “Making sure that the (educational) losses that were suffered during the school shutdowns were beginning to get addressed. Working on improving our early learning programs here in the state of Florida, making sure that they had the right standards and assessments being applied. Getting rid of Common Core in Florida. Switching from our Florida Standards Assessment, our FSA, to a progress-based measuring model for student performance. And this is the third year that we funded over half a billion dollars in additional funds to raise starting-teacher pay to $47,500 across the state.”

In other issues, Andrade feels the legislature needs to continue to reform the state’s property insurance market, and also try to mitigate the effects of Florida’s continued growth.

“Florida is extremely successful,” said Andrade. “So we have 1,000 people moving here every day. That’s more buildings, more houses, more capacity on water, more traffic on the roads. This election is more exciting for me because voters are getting more and more sophisticated about our local land development codes and what that means for our flooding infrastructure and what that means for mitigating those traffic delays and increased congestion. (People) are proud to live in Florida. This is the first time in my life where you go out of the state and people know who our governor is. They are excited about the idea of living in Florida themselves. We’re not victims, but we’re definitely seeing some of the struggles of our own success, some of those growing pains.”

This year there has been an outcry about the billing practices of Florida Power & Light. Bills for many people on the Panhandle have gone up quite a bit. Andrade pins the blame on inflation.

“I feel the same way about Florida Power & Light (bills) increasing by about 25 to 30% in the cost per kilowatt the same I feel about chicken increasing 40% over this past year, the cost of gas almost doubling in the past year,” said Andrade. “These are inflationary symptoms caused by national public policy.”

Not every candidate feels that way about the FP&L situation. Those power rate increases is one of the main drivers of Greg Litton’s campaign.

“I have people just every day talking to me about it because it’s the biggest issue on the Panhandle,” said Litton. “If something’s not wrong on FP&L’s side of the issue, they need to step up and show it. This has been seven months. And we were sold that this little rate hike, well that’s what we were sold, (it would be) a little rate hike and the average bill would be $15 to $20 (more). But that’s not what’s happened. The first month they made a bunch of excuses. My opponent made a lot of them for them and acted like it was just an unusual month, with a few extra days in December added on. And it’s continued all the way through July. And I think there’s something wrong on FP&L’s side. I absolutely believe it’s a billing software issue. And if somehow it’s not, they need to step up and show the people.”

Litton, a former Major League Baseball player who currently works as a mortgage originator in Pensacola acknowledges that the state legislature doesn’t set the rates.

“The state rep has nothing to do with setting the rates,” said Litton. “Alex didn’t have anything to do with that. Nobody’s blaming him for it. But it is his job to stand up and represent all the citizens and all the people not only just in his district, but in the panhandle that are being killed by this.”

In other issues, Litton thinks much more needs to be done to reform the hurricane insurance market in the state, and there is a number of road and transportation issues he feels should be a priority. And he’s running for the office knowing full well it’s not a glamourous position.

“This is a $29,000 a year job that requires you being in Tallahassee at least two to three months, and possibly even more, a year, away from your regular job, which I do have,” said Litton. “So it’s a public servant position and I, naively maybe, believe that I can make a difference.”

Trying to make a difference on a much larger scale is what brought Jordan Karr into the race. “To me, we are in a very poignant, spiritual war in our country right now,” said Karr. “And if we don’t have representatives in office that understand that, and take power back to the states from the federal government, then we’re not going to have a country soon.”

Karr is a former Air Force intelligence officer who was separated from the military because she refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She is currently suing the Department of Defense over those vaccine mandates.

“I truly believe that we have an unconstitutional administration and I’m the only candidate that’s talking about that,” said Karr. “And so for me, I shouldn’t have lost my job, and there are hundreds of people here on the Panhandle, not just military but civilians as well, that had to make that choice between their health care and their job. And that’s not liberty, that’s tyranny.”

Election integrity is also high on Karr’s list of issues. She feels there is a lot of mistrust in the system, even locally.

“I know that this seems to be a controversial issue in Florida, this notion that there’s no fraud,” said Karr. “But that’s not what a lot of voters believe. Right now we have a machine, you know, machine audits that are conducted for elections. And a lot of voters, myself included, do not trust the machines. And I’ve met with the supervisors of elections in both Escambia County and Santa Rosa County, and they’re following the law. So, you know, they’re confined to what the law says, and it’s the election law that needs to change.”

All three of the candidates for the seat share some basic conservative, Republican beliefs. All support so-called constitutional carry for firearms in Florida, which would allow anyone who can legally own a firearm to purchase and carry a concealed weapon without a permit, and all support further restrictions on abortion rights.

Early voting for the primary has begun. Primary election day is Tuesday, August 23.

(An earlier version of this story said that Alex Andrade and Jayer Williamson both entered the Florida House in 2018. This was a reporter's error)

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.