SEBRING - Better buy fresh batteries for that big-button TV remote because 2014 is an election year.
There'll be a zillion commercials for governor. So far 29 candidates have filed, including incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former incumbent, former Republican, now Democrat Charlie Crist. Candidates for attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture secretary will also buy commercial time on your television.
Locally, Highlands County will vote for representatives in the Florida Senate, state House and Congress, plus two county commission, three school board, two water district, and one county judge seat.
So far, incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi has raised $642,000 for a second term. Her Democratic opponents, George Sheldon and Perry Thurston, have gathered only token contributions so far, as has Libertarian Party of Florida candidate Bill Wohlsifer.
It's the same in the other two cabinet races: incumbent CFO Republican Jeff Atwater has collected $1.1 million; his Democratic opponent William Rankin $5,200. Incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican, also has $1.1 million, his opponent has raised $6,500.
Qualifying is from June 16-20 for governor, the cabinet, state Senate and state House.
U.S. Representatives run every two years, including Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, who represents District 17 in Congress. Rooney has collected $242,755. He has two opponents, both from Lehigh Acres: William Emery Bronson, a Democrat, has raised $22,852, Erin Kent Magee, a Republican, has not filed a financial report. Qualifying for congressman is from April 28 to May 2.
When Florida was redistricted in 2012, half of the 40 senators were elected to four-year terms; half were elected to two-year terms. Therefore, Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, won't need to run again until 2016, but she's already raised $77,000 and spent $48,000.
Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, is up in 2014. So far, he has not drawn an opponent in District 26, but he has amassed $226,000 in his war chest, and has spent $96,000.
Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, first elected in 2012, has raised $54,000 for re-election in November. He has not drawn an opponent.
Two county commission districts are up for re-election this year. Don Elwell, R-Spring Lake, is the incumbent in seat 2. He has picked up a packet, but said Friday he is still discussing the time commitment with his wife and family. The deadline is June 20.
Jack Richie, R-Lake Placid, is the incumbent in seat 4. He has filed.
Three school board districts are up for re-election. Andy Tuck, Sebring, who was appointed by the governor to the state school board, has resigned from seat 5. No one has filed yet.
Incumbent Ronnie L. Jackson of Avon Park has filed for re-election to District 1. His opponents so far are Al Joe Hinson and Charlene Edwards.
Bill Brantley of Lake Placid has also filed for re-election, but has no opponent.
Highlands County Judge Anthony Ritenour has filed for re-election to the non-partisan position. He has no opponent.
Town Clerk Eva Cooper-Hapeman said Lake Placid will elect a mayor and two council seats this year. The current mayor is John Holbrook. The incumbent councilors are Debra Worley and Mike Waldron. Candidates have picked up packets for all three races, but no one has filed so far, she said. The election will be held April 8, if necessary.
With Mayor George Hensley bowing out, only John Shoop filed to replace him. However, an election was scheduled March 11 to elect three council members. The candidates are Lenard B. Carlisle Jr., Nadine Elliott Tedstone, Rob Horne, MaryAnn Lewis, Marty Roepstorff, Mark Stewart and Bud Whitlock.
Finally, groups 3 and 4 of the Highlands Soil and Water District are up for re-election.