HD 7 hopefuls talk Hurricane Michael at Tiger Bay

There’s plenty of discord in the crowded race to replace former state Rep. Halsey Beshears. But there’s also harmony.

Four candidates for House District 7 engaged in a tame discussion on Friday at the Capital City Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee. Early voting for the April 9 GOP primary begins Saturday.

The district stretches across the Big Bend area, spanning from Port St. Joe to Mayo. The territory almost brushes up against Mexico Beach, where the near-Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall on Oct. 10.

“We don’t have representation,” said Ryan Terrell, the Democrat who will compete against whoever emerges from the four-way GOP race. “We don’t have a vote in the Legislature right now.”

Three competing Republicans — Mike Watkins, Lynda Bell and Virginia Fuller — agreed: The storm-battered area needs help. (Jason Shoaf, another Republican, did not attend because of a funeral.)

Watkins, the CEO of Big Bend Community Based Care, contrasted the east and west portions of the sprawling district that covers or touches 10 counties.

“There’s really no remote comparison between the two sides of the district,” Watkins said. “So far apart.”

Watkins said he met a voter west who had lived in

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