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Candidates lining up for District 79 race

March 28, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

With Matt Caldwell about to term out in House District 79 and run for the Secretary of Agriculture statewide, there is already a long line of candidates vying for the state seat.

At last week's North Fort Myers Civic Association meeting, three candidates attended, including one who is a vice president of that group.

The Republican race is shaping up to be a crowded one.

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Spencer Roach, who worked for U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, announced his candidacy this past week at an announcement party at the Shell Factory.

Other candidates also announced include Chauncey Solinger and Peter Cuderman.

Three candidates mean a primary, with the winner going to the General Election in November for the seat that covers North Fort Myers, Babcock, Buckingham, Alva and Lehigh Acres.

Roach, a 20-year Army veteran, said he had the itch to run since leaving the service, wanting to serve the community here.

"I'm going to focus a lot on veterans. I did a lot of work as a military lawyer with veterans and I want to focus on veterans' issues, the economy, and there are areas in the eastern part of the district hit hard by the opioid crisis, Irma, and are still recovering from the Great Recession," Roach said.

Cuderman is a 27-year-old entrepreneur who hopes to capture conservatives with youth and exuberance.

Solinger ran in District 76 in 2012 and 2014 but dropped out. He said that exposure has given him a greater following going into the race.

Solinger, a lifelong Floridian, said he has met his fellow candidates in the past couple weeks.

"I like the free market, but the way politics is going, it's not for the little guy anymore. The guy with the most money can influence politicians to vote the way they want them to," Solinger said. "I want to be the guy who pushes the button to prevent new laws that take away our freedoms and promote crony capitalism."

Mark Lipton is the lone Democrat so far, and he has been the most visible as vice president of the North Fort Myers Civic Association and appearing anywhere he can get his platform across.

"I'm disappointed by what's happening in Tallahassee in terms of schools and Medicaid expansion. I also can run. I've retired from my law practice, so this is a full-time job for me," said Lipton, who worked as an attorney for 46 years. "I'm not beholden to anyone, so I'm qualified based on my experience."

William Earp, 26, is the youngest candidate in the field and running without party affiliation. A four-year military man, he said it's time for the millennials to step up and take the reins of leadership.

"We have fresh ideas, a new direction in the way the government is going, separate from partisan politics and nationalism," Earp said. "I'm fiscally conservative and socially liberal, so I believe that's the idea most people agree with. Unfortunately, most politicians are sold out to their parties."



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