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Crowded field vies to succeed Debbie Mayfield in HD 54

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When we last caught up with House District 54, attorney Erin Grall had just secured the endorsement of state Sen. Joe Negron, one of Florida’s few state lawmakers who would get recognized on the street and a preeminent political figure along the Space Coast; Realtor Lange Sykes was hot on Grall’s tail in the fundraising race; Vero Beach Vice Mayor Jay Kramer had just thrown his hat into the ring; and local pastor Dale Glading was seemingly bringing up the rear, struggling to gain name ID in a crowded field.

Since then, the field of play has shifted somewhat, but the frontrunners remain.

Most notably, Kramer has dropped out of the race to succeed the term-limited state Rep. Debbie Mayfield, opting instead to run for Indian River County Commission, as first reported by Michael Kaiser in the Treasure Coast Palm. 

He was not available for comment when Kaiser’s story was published on Friday, but observers can reasonably surmise the reason for his exit was that he assumed his odds of success were longer than he wanted to reckon with. He will try his luck running against current commission Vice Chairman Bob Solari.

Meanwhile, Grall continues to lead the fundraising battle in what seems certain to be an expensive GOP primary, reporting $70,390 in contributions through April 31.

Sykes, though clearly no fundraising slouch himself, is still within striking distance with $63,631, though technically his ledger book is more expansive than Grall’s if you include $11,000 in loans from Sykes to his campaign.

After being outraised $9,245 to $4,600 in the month of April, however, Sykes seems prone to falling more and more behind unless he taps far more into his personal wealth.

Glading will evidently rely on a low-key, word-of-mouth campaign if he is to prevail, as his current contributions total of $8,524 does not auger the kind of budget that allows for a robust ground game or communications shop.

Still no word as to whether Mayfield — who succeeded her late husband, former state Rep. Stan Mayfield, after the latter succumbed to a long battle with cancer in 2008 — will make a possibly game-changing endorsement.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at [email protected]

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