Politics

Four Months Before Elections, 33 House, Senate Candidates Already Claim Victory

No challengers emerge to leading Repubs, Dems including Mike Haridopolos and Nan Rich
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 21, 2010 11:30 AM

While a number of elections across the state appear to be interesting contests that will go to the wire, more than 30 members of the Legislature can uncork the champagne and claim victory more than four months before citizens actually vote.

Of the 23 elections for Senate seats to be held in November, seven will feature candidates running without opposition -- and it starts at the top. While a candidate from the TEA Party filed late in the process to run against incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, he did not qualify -- leaving Haridopolos without opposition in November.

Haridopolos was not the only senator to dodge having a challenger in the general election. Republicans Don Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach and Joe Negron of Palm City also face no opposition for re-election. The same holds true of Democrats Arthenia Joyner of Tampa and Nan Rich of Weston.

Two challengers for Senate seats also face no opponents in the general election. While Florida Atlantic University professor and former Constitution Partier Marshall DeRosa had filed as a TEA Party candidate for the Senate seat that Ted Deutch vacated when he was elected to Congress, he did not qualify to make the ballot. This leaves  Rep. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, as the only candidate in the race. Former Rep. David Simmons is the only candidate who qualified in the race to take the seat currently held by Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs.

Twenty-six of the 120 November elections for House seats will have candidates running without opposition.

Republicans who won re-election by virtue of having no opposition include Janet Adkins of Fernandina Beach, Gary Aubuchon of Cape Coral, Esteban Bovo of Hialeah, Jennifer Carroll of Fleming Island, Steve Crisafulli of Merritt Island, Brad Drake of Eucheeanna, Rich Glorioso of Plant City, Denise Grimsley of Lake Placid, Paige Kreegel of Punta Gorda, John Legg of Port Richey, Seth McKeel of Lakeland, Scott Plakon of Longwood, William Snyder of Stuart, Charles Van Zant of Keystone Heights, and Mike Weinstein of Orange Park.

Democrats who won without a challenge include Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens, Charles Chestnut of Gainesville, Joe Gibbons of Hallandale Beach, Mia Jones of Jacksonville, Marty Kiar of Davie, Betty Reed of Tampa, Elaine Schwartz of Hollywood, Richard Steinberg of Miami Beach, Geri Thompson of Orlando, and Perry Thurston of Plantation.

Democratic challenger Steve Perman is the only candidate who qualified for the ballot to replace Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, who is running for the Senate.

The list of legislators running without opposition included some surprises. For example, former Putnam County Commissioner Linda Myers, a conservative Democrat who had lost to Van Zant in 2008 in a close race, had been planning another run at the Republican incumbent. But she did not qualify.

Other members of the Legislature face only write-in candidates. Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, faces only a write-in opponent. So do three members of the House: Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah, Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville, and  Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.


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