Voters to decide between Wells, Wilson in August

There was not too much drama as the qualifying period for candidates seeking office this fall, except for the fact that one Pasco County Commission race will be decided in August after a last-minute write-in candidate decided to withdraw.

Commissioner Henry Wilson Jr. will defend his District 4 seat against Mike Wells Jr., during an open primary in August that will allow all voters — no matter what their party affiliation is — to decide between the two Republicans.

Wilson, who was first elected to the commission in 2010 after a major upset of incumbent Michael Cox, is working hard to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. Wells — the son of current county property appraiser Mike Wells Sr. — has significant name recognition because of his family ties, and has already raised $45,600 in his short run so far, compared to just under $24,000 from Wilson.

But money has never worried Wilson too much. In his first race, he raised just $8,700 — pennies compared to the massive $163,000 campaign war chest collected by Cox, who at the time was the lone Democrat on the commission.

Typically, two Republicans in a race would prompt an August primary where only Republicans can choose who will go on to the November election. Instead, however, all voters will have a chance to decide between Wilson and Wells, the winner claiming the District 4 seat.

Grady L. Peeler Jr., a tax preparer in Trinity, filed early Friday ahead of the noon deadline to be a write-in candidate for the race. If he had qualified, the Wells/Wilson primary would’ve closed to just Republicans, with the winner on the November ballot to face Peeler. With the primary winner the most likely candidate to win against a write-in candidate, that would’ve left the decision on who represents District 4 to Republicans, leaving both Democrats and independents out of the mix.

Peeler, however, withdrew his candidacy almost as quickly as he filed it, reportedly because of residency issues.

The only other county commission race is District 2, the seat currently held by the retiring Pat Mulieri. Ken Littlefield, Mike Moore and Bob Robertson have all qualified for the Republican primary in August, with the winner facing Democrat Erika Remsberg in November. If Remsberg were to win, she would be the first Democrat to serve on the commission since the departure of Cox in 2010.

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