The 2012 general election hasn't yet come to a close, but Democrat Paul Douglas has already qualified to run for county commissioner in two years.
Douglas filed necessary papers July 25 to run against Republican Dave Russell, whose term expires in 2014.
Douglas said he wanted to get a jump start on the campaign so he could start gathering petitions and money.
"I want to be able to have enough money — and I'm going to have a long time to do so — so I can put together a formidable campaign," Douglas said.
Because he does not live in District 4, Douglas would have to move if elected.
"I know that Commissioner Russell is a tough cookie to run against," he said. "I am putting together a campaign that's going to incorporate the best minds in this county and out of the county. I'm trying my darndest to get people to guide me through this."
Douglas said the local Democratic Party doesn't have the money to spend on their candidates as does the Republican Party, so he has to build up a campaign war chest over time.
Russell, mid-way into his second four-year term, said Thursday he has not decided whether he will run again in 2014.
"I'm focused right now on the commission and business at hand and I'm not even thinking beyond this election," he said.
Elizabeth Townsend, director of operations with the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections, said she cannot recall anyone qualifying for an elected seat this early in the process.
Townsend said this allows Douglas to get his campaign started and begin gathering petitions.
Douglas switched earlier this year from Republican to Democrat because he said he could no longer support many of the former party platforms.
Douglas, 67, had pre-qualified last November to run for county commissioner in District 5. However, Douglas dropped out of that race because — having qualified in the middle of the cycle — he could only run as a non-party candidate.
He also got a late start on campaigning because he was in the process of resigning as president of the Hernando County branch of the NAACP.
That organization's bylaws prohibited campaigning while he was president.