Part 3 in a series.
Once U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, Fla., opted not to run for reelection, his decision set off a wave of challengers to claim Congressional District 15 which encompasses most of Polk County, plus portions of Lake County and a large chunk of suburban Hillsborough County. Florida Daily will look at each of the Republican candidates trying to replace him.
Trying to replace Dennis Ross in Congress, developer Sean Harper hopes voters will want someone with his business background in Washington D.C. instead of better known candidates.
“My competitors run for office because that’s what they do,” Harper told Florida Daily. “They run for office. That is why they are running, and I am running because I know that I can take my business principles and get things done.”
Harper is a developer and the owner of a real estate company who never tried for elective office before. Weighing in on his campaign, Harper calls it an opportunity and insists he has no interest in going to Washington to perpetuate gridlock.
“I got involved so we could get some things done,” Harper said. “If Obama were in office, I would not be running because I don’t think that Obama, and an administration like Obama’s, would allow positive things to get done in Washington.”
Harper railed against the current rules and regulations, noting when he first started in the home building business, it cost the buyer about 75 dollars per square foot to buy a home and that included his profit. Now, Harper says, he cannot build a new home without his cost being 110 dollars per square foot.
“Twenty five to 30 percent of the cost of a new home can be contributed to one form or another of government regulation and that has gone up in the last few years tremendously,” Harper said. “That’s one of the things that I realized being in business the many years I’ve been in business. I realized the effect of those regulations on us.”
Cutting regulations in the housing industry was a driving factor in Harper’s decision to run.
“I’m worried about my kids when they are in a position to start a family and buy a home.” Harper said. “Are they going to be able to afford it or not? I just don’t know with the percentage of increase in the prices of homes.”
Most of the regulations Harper was railing about though are local or state regulations, including impact fees. Harper feels like the federal government has overstepped in the banking industry in the wake of the 2009 recession. He is promising to make changes and loosen the burden on banks.
“Our financing regulations that have been imposed on us by the Dodd Frank Act are choking our small businesses with the regulations that that act has instituted on small community banks. It is very difficult for small community banks to lend money to small businesses,” Harper told Florida Daily.
Harper says he will be an ally to President Donald Trump, saying the American people got it right when they elected a non-political, conservative outsider to Washington.
“I think President Trump is going a great job in equalizing our trade with our other countries,” Harper said. “I think he’s done a good job on making it a business friendly environment so our small businesses in our country can have the confidence to grow. There’s still some work to be done on that.”
The district covers eastern Hillsborough County, most of Polk county and western Lake County. In order to face off against a Democrat in November, Harper will have to defeat GOP activist Dr. Ed Shoemaker, former Southwest Florida Water Management Government Affairs Coordinator Danny Kushmer and former state Representatives Neil Combee and Ross Spano. The primary will be held at the end of next month.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.
Check back with Florida Daily over the next few days when Mike Synan dives deeper into the other GOP challengers looking to claim Congressional District 15. Read previous articles in this series by clicking here.