Three Republicans look to decide Brad Drake’s HD 5 successor


When the heart of the Panhandle casts their ballots this Primary Election, they’ll also be electing their future Representative in House District 5.

The North Florida district is in the market for a lawmaker to succeed Eucheeanna Republican Rep. Brad Drake, who is term-limited this year. Drake has served in the House for 12 of the last 14 years, and now he has a chance to help his preferred successor to the House.

In recent months, the establishment has rallied around Shane Abbott, a DeFuniak Springs pharmacist. Abbott is endorsed by five of the Panhandle’s state Representatives, including Drake. He also has the vote of Florida Professional Firefighters, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Florida Medical Association and more.

Despite Abbott’s profile, his competitors shouldn’t be written off.

Vance Coley, of Marianna, is the son of former Reps. David Coley and Marti Coley. David Coley served nearly five months in House District 7 before he died in 2005. Marti Coley finished out his term and served HD 7 then HD 5 until 2014, when Drake ran to succeed her.

Coley is endorsed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a powerful lobby in “law and order” Florida that denies Abbott a monopoly on the endorsement front.

The third candidate running is Jackson County Commissioner Clint Pate, who operated a local business and farm supply store for 15 years. The DeFuniak Springs resident is also Chairman of the Jackson County Republican Executive Committee and an Assistant Secretary of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF). RPOF Chair of Chairs Evan Power is the Treasurer for Pate’s campaign.

It’s not just the establishment that’s lining up behind Abbott. He has raised half a million dollars between his campaign account and his political committee, Prescription for Florida’s Prosperity.

Still, Coley and Pate have also posted significant figures. Coley has raised more than $100,000 between his campaign account and his political committee, adVance Northwest Florida Values. Pate has raised around half that.

With the latest redistricting cycle, HD 5 now covers Holmes, Jackson, Walton and Washington counties, as well as part of Calhoun County. Because the only three candidates running in the race are Republicans, all HD 5 voters can cast their vote in Tuesday’s Republican Primary.

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