The election may be a year-and-a-half out, but County Commissioner Wayne Dukes decided to announce his re-election now to get an early jump in the campaign.
The Republican filed the necessary pre-qualifying paperwork with the election office and is now able to start gathering the 1,231 petitions needed for getting on the ballot and receiving campaign contributions for his District 2 race.
And Dukes said he expects to garner many of those names during this year’s Hernando County Fair, which begins Friday.
Dukes is one of two county commissioners up for re-election in 2014. Republican Commissioner Dave Russell remains undecided about a second term. If Russell should run again, he already has a challenger in Democrat Paul Douglas, the president of the Hernando County NAACP, who pre-qualified last July for the District 4 seat.
Dukes said he was unsure about seeking a second term and rumors were circulating that he would be a one-term commissioner.
But Dukes, a retired businessman, said friends and supporters convinced him otherwise.
“People encouraged me to run,” he said. “(They) approached me and said, ‘we will help you with the petitions. You’ve got to run again because we need your strength.’ It makes you feel good that people think you’re doing a good job.”
Dukes said he wants to bring to fruition a project to help Hernando County get from under the financial burden of unrepaired sinkhole claims which are draining the county’s general fund budget.
He also wants to work with County Administrator Len Sossamon as he implements initiatives from his soon-to-be-released strategic plan for Hernando County.
Meanwhile, Russell said it’s “too early in the game” to decide on re-election and will wait until the fall or early next year.
As for Dukes: “I wish Wayne well and I support him 100 percent,” Russell said.