State Rep. Joe Gruters was facing a smooth re-election for his Florida House District 73 seat until a University of Tampa political science associate professor recently filed.
Bradenton resident Liv Coleman, who filed as a Democrat on Thursday, is so far the only other person besides Gruters, R-Sarasota, to seek the seat that represents the eastern portions of Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Incumbent Gruters, who is also chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota, is seeking a second term in office after beating Democrat James T. Golden in the 2016 election. So far, he has more than $89,000 boosting his campaign.
According to her University of Tampa biography, Coleman has been teaching political science at the school since 2009 and has an interest in Japanese politics and international relations. Her most recently published research paper is titled, “Will Japan ‘Lean In’ to Gender Equality?”
“I’m concerned about the lack of public confidence in democracy,” Coleman told the Bradenton Herald about her decision to run.
She believes that at times “Tallahassee is out of line of what voters want,” and she said she’s ready to listen. Examples she gave include affordable health care and fulfilling the request by voters to fund Florida Forever, the state’s conservation and recreation lands acquisition program.
Although Gruters won 65 percent of the vote in the last election, Coleman said she knows what she’s up against.
“I think it’s worth the fight,” she said.
Gruters said he is ready for the challenge.
“I think that Liv looks like a credible candidate who certainly has a background that would be favorable for a lot of voters,” Gruters told the Bradenton Herald.
He added that his work to put forth animal cruelty bills, support legislation to prevent employment and housing discrimination of LGBTQ people and sponsor a bill that would curtail sanctuary cities makes his record “steady and balanced.”
“All that being said, I think I’ve been a strong advocate as I can be for Manatee and Sarasota,” he said.