Oelrich, Clay clerk of courts running for Congress


Published: Monday, January 23, 2012 at 5:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 23, 2012 at 10:47 p.m.

The ongoing redistricting process has two North-Central Florida Republicans considering higher office.

State Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross Creek, and Clay County Clerk of Courts James Jett both filed to start campaigning for Congressional District 6 on Monday.

In announcing their candidacies, Oelrich and Jett each sounded themes of spending cuts.

“Washington politicians have a spending addiction, and it's time we kick that habit,” Oelrich said in his campaign news release.

In his release, Jett said he would bring “a track record of prioritizing spending and making government more efficient.”

Oelrich, 66, was Alachua County sheriff for 14 years. He was first elected to Florida Senate District 14 in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

Jett, 59, has been the Clay County clerk of courts since 1998 and served three terms as a Clay County commissioner before that.

Ocala Republican Cliff Stearns has been the longtime incumbent for District 6, which now includes Bradford and Gilchrist counties and parts of Alachua, Marion, Clay, Levy, Lake and Duval counties.

The Legislature's ongoing redistricting process is expected to remove a large swath of the current district, including Ocala and much of Stearns' home county of Marion, and place it in a new District 26 seat.

Under the Florida Senate's approved Congressional redistricting maps, the newly redrawn District 6 would include much of Alachua County, along with a larger area in Clay, western Marion and all of Dixie, Suwannee, Columbia, Bradford, Union Gilchrist, Levy, Lafayette, Hamilton and Madison counties.

The news release from Oelrich's campaign said that his current Florida Senate district makes up seven counties and more than 63 percent of the voters in the Congressional district he seeks.

Oelrich had previously announced interest in a run for Congress — if it did not mean challenging Stearns.

Alachua County Republican Ted Yoho is also a candidate for District 6. He signed up to campaign in June 2011.

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or chris.curry@gvillesun.com.

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