Full house on primary ballots for Collier’s Congressional District 25

The 20th Judicial Circuit’s two top court players will remain in their positions for the next four years.

State Attorney Stephen Russell and Public Defender Kathy Smith each remained unopposed in re-election bids by Friday’s noon qualification deadline for local and state judicial races.

Five circuit judges will also remain on the bench after their candidacies went unopposed. They are Lee Circuit judges Jay Rosman and Ramiro Mañalich; Charlotte Circuit judges Alane Laboda and John Dommerich; and Collier Circuit Judge Jim Shenko.

Representative Nick Thompson, R-Fort Myers, will take the Lee Circuit seat being vacated by retiring Judge Thomas S. Reese.

Collier County Judge Michael Provost was unopposed for his seat.

Four candidates are vying for Lee County Judge Radford Sturgis’ seat. They are Robert J. Branning, Miguel Fernandez III, Frank Mann Jr. and David Shestokas.

Lee County Judge Archie B. Hayward Jr. will run against former Cape Coral mayor Eric P. Feichthaler to return to his seat.

— The names are in and the candidate list for Congressional District 25, which covers part of Collier County, is full.

“It is done,” said Florida Division of Elections spokeswoman Jennifer K. Davis on Friday. “The qualifying for this office has ended. We have completed our review of all of the applications that we received.”

According to the Florida Division of Elections’ website, as of Friday seven candidates had qualified for the District 25 race.

The seat is being vacated by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, who is running for his brother Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart’s District 21 seat. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, announced his intent to retire from office in February.

Miami Democrats Joe Garcia and Luis Meurice will face off in the August primary.

“This is just a first step in what will be a campaign to bring new leadership to our community and restore some common sense to our politics,” said Garcia when reached for comment. “I’ll work to put our economy back on the road toward prosperity and job creation by keeping taxes low on families and small businesses, restore fiscal discipline to Washington because leaders should manage tax-payer dollars wisely and fully fund our schools so our children receive a quality education that prepares them for the jobs of the 21st century.”

Meanwhile, the Republican primary for District 25 will feature Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, who represents part of Collier County in his state legislative district, as well as Miami residents Marili Cancio and Paul Crespo.

“I’m extremely excited to have qualified to run for U.S. Congress in Florida’s District 25. … I am not a career politician and have made no promises to Tallahassee lobbyists or DC power brokers,” Paul Crespo said in an e-mail Friday. “My only promise is to defend the Constitution and faithfully represent the citizens of District 25.”

Rivera was the only candidate to qualify for the ballot by collecting 4,004 signatures from Miami-Dade and Collier counties.

Candidates for Congress that do not collect enough petition signatures are assessed a $10,440 fee.

“I am proud to officially be a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress, and I am so thankful for the support I have received from friends, family and the thousands of voters who signed petitions to place my name on the ballot,” Rivera wrote in a statement Thursday. “Americans need real solutions and bold leadership, both of which I am committed to offering the voters of Congressional District 25.”

Also in the running for the seat are Miami-Dade County resident and Whig party candidate Craig Porter and Tea Party candidate Roly Arrojo.

On Friday, Craig Porter said he was glad that he qualified and looked forward to visiting Collier during the campaign.

“I originally filed as a no party affiliated,” said Porter adding that after a talk with the Florida Whigs, he opted to run as a Whig. “I decided that our views were quite similar and it’s turned out great.

Porter added that both major parties have become too attached to special interests, and that he hopes to change that as an outside candidate.

Arrojo, Cancio, and Meurice could not be reached for comment.

In addition, the race for Congressional seat 14, which covers parts of Collier, Charlotte and Lee counties is headed straight to the November general election.

Incumbent Congressman Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, qualified for the race, along with Cape Coral Democrat James Lloyd Roach and independent William Maverick St. Claire.

The qualifying period began at noon Monday and ended at noon Friday.

Connect with Elysa Batista at www.naplesnews.com/staff/elysa_batista

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