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Davis, Kramer seen vying for House seat

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of January 1, 2015)
Photo of County Commissioner Wesley Davis and Vero Beach Vice-Mayor Jay Kramer

With November’s election just weeks in the rear-view mirror, two prominent local officials – Vero Beach Vice-Mayor Jay Kramer and Indian River County Commission Chair Wesley Davis – seem to be testing the waters to run for Rep. Debbie Mayfield’s Florida House seat two years from now.

Both Davis and Kramer are registered Republicans, so that would pit them against each other in the August 2016 primary. Though it seems early to be thinking of the 2016 election, hotly contested House races generally require campaign war chests in the quarter-million-dollar ballpark.

Kramer was seen and heard promoting himself in Tallahassee earlier this month, drumming up commitments of financial support from Republican leaders, lobbyists and people affiliated with well-funded PACs. But when asked if he was ready to announce, Kramer denied that he is running, or even testing the waters.

He said those speculating that he was in Tallahassee shaking the trees in preparation for a House run have “quite an imagination.”

In addition to serving four years on the Vero Beach City Council, including a year as Mayor, Kramer is also the county’s Republican State Committeeman, an office he won via a countywide vote.

Davis has represented Fellsmere, parts of Sebastian and northwest Indian River County on the Board of County Commissioners since 2004.

Open House seats generally only come up every eight years when incumbents are term-limited, and Davis admits that he’s carefully considering seizing this rare opportunity. “I am keeping my options open. I’ve been encouraged, but I’m not quite there yet,” he said.

As part of his research and decision-making process, Davis met with Mayfield earlier this month to discuss the job. In taking stock of how he could use his six years of School Board experience and his agricultural background, Davis said he feels he’s got a unique combination of skills and expertise that would come in handy in serving on or leading one of the many specialized House committees.

Davis, 44, is a native of Indian River County and works as a real estate auctioneer. Kramer, 45, moved to Vero Beach in 2003 and owns a technology and information systems consulting business. Both men are active in the community, serving on numerous volunteer projects and nonprofit boards.

Kramer has twice been endorsed and financially supported by the Indian River Neighborhood Association, a group that doggedly opposed Davis in 2008 when IRNA members backed challenger Susan Boyd.

Kramer helped Republican challenger Art Argenio in his 2010 campaign against Mayfield, so unless Kramer and Mayfield have mended fences despite their opposing positions on Vero Beach utility issues, it would be a stretch for Mayfield to support a Kramer candidacy.