The special election for the state Senate District 8 seat formerly held by the late state Sen. James E. “Jim” King, Jr. appears to be a close race between former state House Speaker John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine) and anti-tax activist Dan Quiggle (R-Ponte Vedra Beach). The Republican primary in District 8, a largely coastal district that stretches from the Florida-Georgia state line to Volusia County, is set for September 15, 2009. Five Republicans have qualified for the September 15 primary, which will effectively decide the election. One write-in candidate also has qualified.

After serving in the state House, Mr. Thrasher became one of Tallahassee's most prominent lobbyists as a principal in the Southern Strategy Group lobbying firm. Mr. Quiggle is the state chair of Americans for Prosperity and the president of a title insurance firm. Other leading candidates in the Republican primary are Stan Jordan of Jacksonville, a former state representative and former member of the Duval County School Board, and Art Graham of Jacksonville Beach, a former member of the Jacksonville City Council.

As of the end of August, the candidates had raised $776,282 in contributions, with Mr. Thrasher's $401,311 accounting for more than half of the total. In addition to campaign spending by the candidates, other groups with affiliations to prominent plaintiff's lawyers have funded extensive advertising campaigns in opposition to Mr. Thrasher.

The Insider Advantage polling firm reports that its poll, conducted in late August and early September, shows Mr. Quiggle with a one-point lead over Mr. Thrasher, but newspaper reports indicate that polls conducted for the Quiggle campaign show Mr. Quiggle with a nine-point lead.