Sen. Jack Latvala announces governor run, stops in Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Another high profile state Republican is throwing his hat in the ring to be Florida’s next governor, and he ended his first official day of campaigning in Panama City.

Senator Jack Latvala kicked off his campaign Wednesday morning in Hialeah before flying to his hometown of Clearwater and finishing the day in Panama City.

He filed his paperwork to seek the seat being vacated by Republican Gov. Rick Scott on Friday but waited before publicly launching the campaign.

He becomes the second major Republican to get in the race. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam entered the race in May and was immediately considered the front-runner.

Latvala, though, has shown during two stints in the Senate that he isn’t afraid of a fight. He has been a powerful force in the chamber, where he’s often stood up to other Republican leaders.

He's a strong supporter of Governor Scott's economic approach, and if elected, he plans on making infrastructure his number one priority.

"In Central and South Florida we have gridlock with the traffic every day at rush hour; morning and the evening," Latvala said. "We have got to figure out a way to get people out of their cars down there and figure out a way to spend a little more money on roads and bridges."

Though many say he leans more to the moderate side of the Republican spectrum, the state senator says all those people need to do is look to his voting record.

"Show me the votes," Latvala said. "I've never voted for a tax increase, I've voted for all of the tough criminal justice measures we've put in place to reduce the crime rate. You know, some people say that because I'm environmentally conscious, that makes me into something other than a conservative. But I think conservative and conservation have the same root word."

Latvala says he's determined not to let Tallahassee become like Washington, D.C., with all of the vitriol and name-calling.