From Fort Myers News-Press on 1/22/11
Former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp is giving "very serious consideration" to running for Congress, assuming an open seat presents the chance for what he said "would be an incredible honor" representing Southwest Florida in Washington.
An open seat depends largely on having U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, run for the U.S. Senate, as many predict he will.
If Mack does make that move, several other well-known Southwest Florida elected officials also are eying that congressional seat, including Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah and former state Rep. Dudley Goodlette of Naples.
Redistricting also matters. Although Southwest Florida districts will surely be Republican majority, where the lines fall in Lee, Collier and Charlotte could give a hometown candidate an advantage.
Kottkamp, who lost the statewide GOP primary for attorney general last fall, is the only potential candidate who's run in all three counties. He won all those counties by significant margins, albeit against opponents who lacked local name ID. In Lee he won with 67 percent of the vote; in Collier, with 56 percent and Charlotte, 46 percent. In addition to recognition, he has a built-in fundraising network from that last election. If he could keep those voters, the race would be his.
Since leaving the lieutenant governor's office earlier this month, Kottkamp has been in discussion with several law firms about doing government relations work. A decision is expected soon, said Kottkamp, who's back with family in their North Fort Myers home.
As for the Senate race, Senate President Mike Haridopolos is talking about raising money for that contest. Legislators are prohibited from fundraising for state offices during session, but can collect funds for a federal race.
Haridopolos' position gives him the chance for statewide headlines, and a boost for fundraising -along with the likelihood of criticism if he collects donations while deciding on bills.
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