The Republican Primary for House District 58 pits a former legislator against a GOP newcomer — both of whom have earned support from key Republican figures, making for a competitive race.
The ballot features former Rep. Kim Berfield, who served in the House from 2000-2006, as well as business owner and tech entrepreneur Jason Holloway. Although Berfield and Holloway have established themselves as front-runners, a third candidate, Jim Vricos, is also competing.
Berfield and Holloway have gone head-to-head throughout the race. While Berfield has trailed Holloway’s substantial fundraising numbers, her name recognition in the area may prove valuable.
Though Holloway has backing from several prominent GOP leaders, Berfield snagged an endorsement from Rep. Chris Latavla — the legislator the candidates are racing to replace. And while Berfield has strong Republican roots in the county, Holloway may find support from across the aisle, as a former legislative aide for Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson.
But while some may see Holloway’s bipartisan appeal as a strength, his previous ties to the Democratic Party have been a significant point of criticism from Berfield and Latvala.
It’s no secret that Holloway was a Democrat. He served as a Precinct Committeeman for the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee in 2016. But in 2019, after the election of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Holloway changed his party affiliation and joined the GOP.
And while Latvala questions Holloway’s ties, the candidate has earned backing from prominent state Republicans, including Republican Party of Florida Chair Joe Gruters, Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Nick DiCeglie.
Holloway was also appointed by Gov. DeSantis to the Florida Blockchain Task Force in late 2019, prompting his departure from Rouson’s legislative staff. The task force was established to develop a master plan for expanding the blockchain industry in the state. Blockchain is a system of recording information and data to protect against hacks. Holloway has a master’s degree from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus in digital currencies and blockchain technology.
After her service in the state Legislature, Berfield served as deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health. She’s currently the vice president of government affairs and community health at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
As for fundraising, Holloway leads the pack, having so far collected $246,390 between his campaign and affiliated political committee, Keep Florida Red 2022. That number includes $33,100 in self-funding. Berfield has lacked throughout the race in the fundraising field, amassing $92,736 between her campaign and affiliated political committee, Friends of Kim Berfield.
Vricos, an adjunct instructor at Keiser University and Schiller International University, has so far raised $16,915, including $3,500 in self-funding.
The winner of the GOP nomination will go on to face the Democratic nominee, either Bernie Fensterwald or Joseph Saportas.
Latvala is leaving office because of term limits. HD 58 covers parts of the middle and northern portions of Pinellas County. The Primary Election is Aug. 23.
The redrawn Clearwater district has a slight Republican lean, with 52% of voters supporting Trump in 2020, and about 47% backing President Joe Biden.