State Politics

President of Lakewood Ranch Republicans files for state Rep. Greg Steube's Florida House seat

Steve Vernon says he won't run against Steube, who may seek Senate seat in '16

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The president of the Lakewood Ranch Republican Club has become the second candidate to file for state Rep. Greg Steube's House seat in 2016, amid rumors Steube will run for the state Senate.

Steve Vernon, 69, filed as a candidate Monday.

State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Sarasota, is rumored to be leaving her Senate seat in 2016 in favor of a run for a Sarasota County Commission seat, which would prompt Steube to run for the Senate District 28 seat. That would leave the House District 73 position an open seat.

Joe Gruters, the Sarasota County GOP chairman and vice chairman of the state GOP, was the first candidate to file for Steube's seat on June 1. He has already reported $88,644 raised for that campaign.

Gruters was Detert's treasurer for part of her 2014 Senate campaign and has said he will not run if Steube chooses to run for re-election to the House.

Vernon is taking an identical approach.

"I would not run against Greg Steube," Vernon said. "I think he's doing a fabulous job, so if things don't go the way we think they will, I'll withdraw."

Vernon is the owner of Manasota TV and the treasurer of Gulfstream Towers in Sarasota. He also "briefly" chaired the Herman Cain presidential campaign in Manatee County in 2012 and retired from working as a contracts negotiator at IBM in the same year. He was elected president of the Lakewood Ranch Republican Club in March 2015 and said he plans to continue in that position.

Vernon said he felt a need to run because he thinks the Republican Party is drifting away from its traditional values, such as fiscal restraint, individual liberty and true free enterprise without corporate welfare.

"I'll be asking for donations from my supporters, but I'm not going to go after big money," he said. "Because that's the problem -- it becomes all about the money."

Vernon has not reported any campaign finance activity. Candidates are required to file for election before raising money for their campaigns.