It's hard to believe, but the 2014 election season started way back in November 2012. That's when Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who had been in office for 13 days, filed for a second term.
Early voting began Saturday for the Nov. 5 Avon Park election for mayor and city council, and Sebring will hold its municipal election on March 11. Lake Placid has scheduled voting on April 8.
However, said Election Supervisor Penny Ogg, "These dates have not been confirmed with the city yet."
Qualifying dates are not set yet for either municipal election, but Galvano and Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, are already entered in the 2014 primary, which is set for Aug. 26. If the Republicans don't draw primary opponents, they may proceed directly to the Nov. 14 general election.
Pigman, who was also elected on Nov. 6, 2013, filed for reelection on Dec. 31, and has raised $16,600 in campaign finance funds.
Galvano, who spent six years in the state House of Representatives, has already gathered $157,000 and has spent $63,000. Because half of Florida's 40 senators were elected to two-year terms after redistricting, Galvano, who represents the southern half of Highlands County, is eligible to serve 10 years in the Senate. He has confirmed that if he is reelected in 2014 and again in 2018, that he will aim for the Senate presidency.
Twenty-two candidates have filed for governor, although that doesn't include likely Democrat Charlie Crist nor Republican incumbent Rick Scott. Two candidates each have filed for attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture secretary, including incumbents Pam Bondi, Jeff Atwater and Adam Putnam, respectively.
Candidates for U.S. Congress include incumbent Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, and two opponents he has faced last year, Erin Kent Magee, a Republican, and William Emery Bronson, a Democrat, both of Lehigh Acres. Magee lost to Rooney by 17 percent of the vote in the 2012 GOP primary; Bronson, a retired Delta Air Lines pilot, polled 116,000 votes in the 282,000 ballot Nov. 6 general election.
Rooney began the 2014 cycle with $436,770 cash on hand from the previous year. He has received another $142,523, spent $119,506, and still has $410,500 in cash.
Neither Bronson or Emery have filed campaign finance statements with the Federal Election Commission.
Local elections also include county commission districts 2 and 4. Those seats are currently held by Don Elwell, R-Spring Lake, and Jack Richie, R-Lake Placid.
Incumbents Andy Tuck of Sebring and Bill Brantley of Lake Placid have already filed for reelection to school board districts 4 and 5. District 1 is also up, currently represented by Ronnie Jackson of Avon Park.
The county judge's seat will also be filled. Anthony Ritenour currently wears the black robes.
Finally, Highlands County Soil and Water Conservation District groups 3 and 4 will be elected.
Ogg is holding a candidate workshop on Nov. 14 or Nov. 16. Candidates, campaign staff, volunteers and the public are invited to attend. More info: 402-6655.