GOP universal primary battle for state Sen. District 20 pits incumbent vs. familiar rival

·4 min read
Republican State Sen. Jim Boyd, who won his first term in 2020, in District 21, prior to redistricting, is seeking to gain a second term in a universal primary race to win the newly drawn District 20 seat.
Republican State Sen. Jim Boyd, who won his first term in 2020, in District 21, prior to redistricting, is seeking to gain a second term in a universal primary race to win the newly drawn District 20 seat.

The universal primary contest for state Senate District 20 features incumbent Republican Jim Boyd against Republican challenger John Houman in a rematch of the 2020 primary for what was then District 21.

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At that time, Boyd received roughly 90% of the votes cast in the district, which includes Manatee County and the southern portion of Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County Republican John Houman is mounting his fourth consecutive run for state Senate, with a run for District 20 in a GOP universal primary.
Hillsborough County Republican John Houman is mounting his fourth consecutive run for state Senate, with a run for District 20 in a GOP universal primary.

He went on to defeat Democrat Tony Eldon in the general election. Since there are no Democratic or no-party affiliation candidates, all voters will be allowed to weigh in on the  Aug. 23 universal primary.

Earlier: Boyd wins state Senate District 21 seat

Because of this year's redrawing of state legislative district boundaries based on the most recent U.S. census, Boyd won a two-year term in 2020 but this year, the seat will again carry with it a four-year term.

Early voting starts Saturday.

Boyd was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010 and spent eight years there.

In 2020, he succeeded state Sen.Bill Galvano, who could not seek reelection because of term limits.

This will be the fourth consecutive senate campaign for the 75-year-old Houman, who in 2017 ran unsuccessfully against state Sen. Darryl Rouson in the 19th district. In 2018 he ran in District 20 and lost in the primary to incumbent Tom Lee.

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Boyd noted that he and Houman never crossed paths in the 2020 campaign.

“Two years ago when we ran I didn’t see him at any event, he didn’t do any mailers, he didn’t do any communications; I’m sure he’s a very nice man but he didn’t have any kind of a campaign at all,” Boyd said.

Houman said that in 2020 his efforts were hamstrung by COVID-19.

But like in 2020, Houman said he hasn’t solicited campaign funds beyond what’s needed to pay a filing fee and plans to rely heavily on people watching videos on his web site: https://senator-johnhouman.com/.

“I just do Zoom and Skype and I have zero campaign funds,” Houman said. “I put in enough money to cover the entrance fee. I'm planning the opposite of everybody else: zero campaign money.”

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A retired electrician and Navy veteran who grew up in Wisconsin, Houman isn’t running against Boyd, specifically, he said. Instead he said he’s running against the divisive rhetoric that dominates politics.

“Everything has changed, people have such weird ideas – I want to get things back to normal,” Houman said. “None of this Trump stuff about 'the election was stolen' and 'woke stuff' and all of this stuff that talking TV heads are scaring people about.”

In other areas, Houman said he’s 75% pro-life and 25% pro-choice – specifically, he can support the need for abortion at 23 weeks, when it’s medically necessary.

“I’m not anti-abortion,” Houman stressed. “Anti-abortion people think women are second-class citizens.”

As of the July 29 filings available with the Florida Department of State Division of Elections, Houman has received $1,803.82 in loans to his campaign account and spent all of it.

In contrast, Boyd has received $176,400 in cash donations and $16,629.83 in in-kind contributions. He has spent $134,291.80. His website is https://www.boydforflorida.com/.

Boyd, the owner of an insurance company, said he hopes to build on his work in Tallahassee.

He served as chairman of the state Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, which has been focused on property insurance reform.

“While it hasn’t taken full effect in the benefits of it yet, we worked very very hard on property insurance reform, so we can get relief to homeowners who are paying exorbitant rates for their insurance,” Boyd said. “I do believe in the special session we accomplished significant reform but the reality is – as I said when we were doing it – it’s going to take a year or 18 months sadly, for those reforms to filter through the process and reduce rates.”

Boyd hopes to continue work on other legislation, notably to deal with the opioid crisis.

Earle Kimel primarily covers south Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at earle.kimel@heraldtribune.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Boyd faces Houman in universal primary for state Sen. Dist. 20 seat