Only one state House race is on the Aug. 26 ballot in Pasco County: a Republican primary in west Pasco-based District 36 between Chris Gregg of New Port Richey and James Mathieu of Port Richey.
The winner faces Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, in November.
Rep. Richard Corcoran, a Republican from Land O’ Lakes, was re-elected in District 37 without opposition at the end of qualifying earlier this summer.
The race to succeed term-limited House Speaker Will Weatherford in District 38 will be decided in November. Neither Danny Burgess, a Republican from Zephyrhills, nor Beverly Ledbetter, a Democrat from Dade City, have primary opposition.
In the District 36 primary, Gregg, 44, and Mathieu, 60, are both good candidates who have never held elected office.
Mathieu, a lawyer who also serves as the chairman of the Republican Party of Pasco, does have experience in government; he is a former Port Richey city attorney and interim city manager. This is his third time seeking the seat, which Murphy won in a special election in October after Mike Fasano resigned to become Pasco County tax collector.
Mathieu promises to bring an “analytical” mind to the Legislature. He is critical of how Tallahassee works, especially in the last two frenzied weeks of the session, and suggests longer sessions are needed.
Gregg, who had a respectable showing in his bid for the Pasco County Commission two years ago, finishing second in a five-way primary, has been endorsed by Weatherford and state Sen. John Legg, who previously helped represent west Pasco in the House. We believe Gregg gives Republicans the better chance of retaking the seat in November because of his strong conservative values.
Gregg, who has lived in Pasco five years but in the Tampa Bay area since 1974, is in business development for American Health Associates Clinical Laboratories. He is strong on job creation and understands that more private property insurance companies need to be brought back into the market — two key issues in the district and the county. He supports vouchers, school choice and charter schools.
Although opposed to expanding Medicaid, citing more federal debt, he does offer alternatives. They include the state working more with counties to make better use of indigent-care programs and free clinics, and urging doctors to provide care on a sliding scale.
“You have to be proactive,” says the personable Gregg, who served in the U.S. Air Force as a flight medic with the 37th Aeromedical Evacuation Group at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. He suggests deploying National Guard doctors and nurses to provide medical care to the poor and uninsured for perhaps a week or a month at a time.
If elected, Gregg, a former small-business owner, says he would work hard to persuade companies to relocate here, even making calls himself, and ensure that government remains fiscally conservative.
For the Republican primary for state House District 36, The Tampa Tribune recommends Chris Gregg.