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Politics

HD 34: Jimmie Smith and Nancy Argenziano Await Democrat Primary Winner

August 5, 2012 - 6:00pm

As he seeks a second term in the Florida House, Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, gets to wait while two Democrats battle in the primary to see who will take him on. But Nancy Argenziano, who served in both chambers of the Legislature and on the Public Service Commission, is also waitingfor the results as she looks to return to Tallahassee as the candidate of the Independent Party of Florida.

Smith, who served 20 years in the Army, currently represents all of Citrus and parts of Hernando and Levy counties in the House. With the Legislature having tackled redistricting earlier in the year, Smith faces a slightly changed district this time out. The new seat contains all of Citrus County and parts of Hernando County while Levy County has been altogether removed from the district.

While Smith has been included as part of the Republican leadership, namely a stint as deputy whip, his fundraising has not exactly been impressive. As of July 20, he had raised almost $68,000 and relied on more than $10,500 through in-kind donations. He has not been keeping his money in the bank despite not facing a Republican primary challenge. By July 20, Smith had spent almost $56,250 on hand.

But he might be in solid shape despite his less-than-impressive war chest. While two Democrats fight for their partys nomination and a serious candidate is running on a minor party line, Smith continues to have a solid lead on the fundraising front.

Despite her credentials, Argenziano has not been able to keep up with Smith in the money chase. A former Republican who left the PSC in the last days of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign to endorse Democrat candidate Alex Sink, Argenziano was hoping to run as the Democratic nominee against U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla. But Argenziano changed her party registration too late and lowered her sights to run for the Florida House. Since entering the race in early April, by July 20 Argenziano had raised less than $3,850 and spent almost $1,900 from her campaign account.

While Smith and Argenziano wait for the general election, two Democrats will duel in their partys primary on Aug. 14.

Lynn Dostal, a teacher based in Hernando County, has already put a hold on his campaign to back Argenziano. But, with another candidate emerging for the Democratic nomination, Dostal jumped back in the race. If he wins his partys nod, Dostal is expected to bow out and support Argenziano. Since entering the race in August, Dostal has raised more than $2,100, loaned the campaign $1,200 and relied on almost $3,000 through in-kind donations. As of July 20, Dostal spent more than $2,800.

Auto technician Robert Goocher is also seeking the Democratic nomination, though some members of that party are insisting that he is running as a straw man to hurt Argenziano. If Goocher wins the primary, he is expected to stay in the race. Since jumping in the contest in the middle of May, Goocher has raised more than $2,500 and spent almost $1,800.

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

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