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Qualifying for Florida elections wraps up

Bill Kaczor

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross was the only candidate for a Florida congressional seat to win re-election without opposition Friday, as qualifying closed for this year's elections.

Eight candidates for the 40-seat Florida Senate and 30 for the 120-district state House also didn't draw opponents.

Other candidates' fate will be decided by voters in the Aug. 14 primary, the Nov. 6 general election, or both.

Legislative and U.S. House candidates will be running in reconfigured districts. They are redrawn every 10 years to take into account population changes, which added two seats to the 25 congressional districts that Florida now has.

Ross, a Lakeland Republican, is humbled and pleased by his free pass, said Fred Piccolo, the congressman's chief of staff.

"It's a testament to his constituent work and voting record," Piccolo said, noting that Ross' votes have conformed with his district's conservative outlook. "He'll sit down with everybody. He's sat down with everybody from the tea part to MoveOn.org."

The new district lines are the first drawn under anti-gerrymandering standards that voters put in the Florida Constitution two years ago.

The new lines, though, have put two congressional incumbents in the same district: U.S. Reps. John Mica of Winter Park and Sandy Adams of Oviedo, both Republicans.

Two state senators, Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale and Democrat Maria Sachs of Boca Raton, also are competing in the same district.

Another member of Congress, Rep. Connie Mack IV of Fort Myers, is running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. Mack is vying with five other candidates in the Senate GOP primary.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Melbourne has drawn one Democratic primary opponent, Glenn Burkett of Naples, who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2010.

Mack's plans to leave the House, the doubling up of Mica and Adams and the addition of two districts leave only four open U.S. House seats.

Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, an Orlando Democrat who was unseated two years ago, is running for one of the open seats _ the new 9th District in central Florida, where four candidates are vying for the GOP nomination.

Rep. Daniel Webster is a Winter Garden Republican who unseated Grayson in 2010. He is being challenged in the neighboring 10th District by Democrat Val Demings, a retired Orlando police chief and the wife of Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

Another open U.S. House seat, the 6th District in east-central Florida, has drawn seven Republicans, including state Rep. Fred Costello of Ormond Beach, and two Democrats.

Two other state representatives, Gary Aubuchon of Cape Coral and Paige Kreegel of Punta Gorda, are among six Republicans vying for the open 19th District seat in southwest Florida. Another is Chauncey Goss of Sanibel, son of Porter Goss, the former congressman and CIA director under President George W. Bush. The winner will face Democrat Jim Roach of Cape Coral.

West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and Broward County Commissioner Kristen Jacobs are seeking the Democratic nomination for the final open seat, in the 22nd District. Former state Rep. Adam Hasner of Del Ray Beach is the only Republican candidate in the contest.

State Rep. Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican who is in line to become state House speaker in November, was among 20 GOP candidates and 10 Democrats re-elected to the Florida House without opposition.

Weatherford's Senate counterpart, President-designate Don Gaetz, does have opposition. But the Niceville Republican is facing only a write-in candidate. Gaetz' son, Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz,, was among those re-elected to the state House without opposition.

The other House winners include four non-incumbents.

All of the unopposed Senate candidates are incumbents but only two are Democrats: Sens. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa and Oscar Braynon II of Miami Gardens, who won a special election last year after serving in the House.

The Republican senators re-elected without opposition are Charles Dean of Inverness, Garrett Richter of Naples, Nancy Detert of Venice, Anitere Flores of Miami, Rene Garcia of Hialeah and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Coral Gables.

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Online:

Florida candidates and races: http://election.dos.state.fl.us/candidate/index.asp

The Associated Press