Next week Republican voters will go to the polls to choose between four candidates in the primary special election for Florida House District 7. Voters are tasked with choosing between candidates that are all running as conservatives.
The candidates include Mike Watkins, Lynda Bell, Jason Shoaf and Virginia Fuller.
The media buzz and campaign donations have been dominated by Mike Watkins – the CEO of the Big Bend Community Based Care – and Jason Shoaf, a vice-president at St. Joe Gas Company.
In a recent forum at the Capital City Tiger Bay Club, which was overshadowed by the subject of hurricane recovery, Mike Watkins won the group’s straw poll.
Much of the focus of the campaign has been on the battle between Watkins and Shoaf over who is the most qualified candidate to carry the conservative message forward.
With much less media exposure, Lynda Bell – a former South Florida mayor who entered the race in early February – is running on a strong pro-life message with unique credentials.
In announcing her candidacy, she highlighted her pro-life commitment.
Bell said, “I am passionate about protecting our constitutional rights, particularly the right to life since all other rights flow from it. We have seen the tragic erosion of the right to life in states like New York and Virginia in recent weeks, and I can’t sit on the sidelines.”
She added, “Florida must continue to foster a culture where life is honored at every stage, from conception to natural death, and I will fight to protect our most vulnerable citizens in the Florida House.”
Bell has served as a Miami-Dade County Commissioner from 2010 to 2014 and on the Homestead City Council from 2003 to 2009. She was Vice Chair of the County Commission from 2012 to 2014 and Mayor of Homestead from 2007 to 2009.
Bell is the current city manager of Sneads and the president of the Florida Right to Life.
According to their website, Florida Right to Life is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grass-roots public service organization dedicated to protecting and fostering the most basic value of our society – life itself – through education and legislation.
The group believes that life begins at conception and ends at natural death, and at all in-between points should be defended and nurtured.
Along with her pro-life credentials, Bell has not been shy in brandishing her conservative positions as they relate to the second amendment and President Trump.
“I’m endorsed by Florida Right to Life, and the NRA has given me the highest grade of any candidate in this race. I’ve personally briefed President Trump on constitutional issues, and the voters can rest assured that I stand with them in the arena as the proven conservative.”
Virginia Fuller, who is a registered nurse, is another choice for voters in the race. Fuller failed to unseat U.S. Rep. Al Lawson in a campaign for a US congressional seat last year.
The special election was scheduled after Representative Halsey Beshears joined the DeSantis administration as the Secretary of Department Business and Professional Regulation.
The district includes Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla Counties and part of Leon County.
The Republican primary winner will face Democrat Ryan Terrell in the general election.