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2012 State And Regional Races To Watch



Sens. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R) and Maria Sachs (D)

Maria Sachs vs. Ellyn Bogdanoff—SB 34

Both Sachs and Bogdanoff are fighting for their political lives after redistricting placed the two sitting state senators in the same district.

Republican Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale and Democrat Sachs of Delray Beach are vying for a coastal district that includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties.  While the District trends Democratic, It’s a must-win for Republicans if they want to keep their two-thirds majority in the state senate. 

Rep. Scott Plakon (R) and Karen Castor Dental (D)

Scott Plakon vs. Karen Castor Dental- HD 30

Redistricting strikes again, this time in a House district. And a Conservative Republican meets a Democratic Dynasty.

Republican Representative Scott Plakon of Longwood moved out of his seat so he wouldn’t have to challenge future House Speaker Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary. But the move put him in a race with Democrat Karen Castor Dental, a public school teacher who is also the daughter of former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor, and sister of Congresswoman Kathy Castor of Tampa.

Jimmie Smith vs. Nancy Argenziano HD 34

Former Republican state House member Nancy Argenziano is seeking a return to the chamber, but this time, with a new party affiliation-Independent. Argenziano changed her party affiliation back in 2010 after serving on the state’s utility regulator and publically disagreeing with other board members on policy decisions. In announcing her party switch, Argenziano blasted the party as being taken over by “clowns, cowboys and crooks.” 

Argenziano is challenging incumbent House member Republican Jimmie Smith of Inverness.

Eileen Game vs. Mike LaRosa HD 42

This race is interesting simply because it involves a sex scandal. State House Representative Mike Horner appeared to be cruising toward re-election over his Democratic challenger, Eileen Game, a business owner. But the race took an unexpected turn when Horner’s name surfaced on a client list at an East Orange brothel. Horner dropped out of the race, placing Game in the front.  But Game has been campaigning as if Horner is still in, and she’s been trying to link his replacement, Mike LaRosa, to the disgraced politician.

Alex Diaz de la Portilla vs. Jose Javier Rodriguez- HB 112

This Miami House race features a Florida Political Dynasty. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, a former of both the Florida House and Senate, and Senate Republican leader, is seeking a return to the state legislature. His brother Miguel Diaz de la Portilla currently holds a Senate seat, while another, Renier Diaz de la Portilla, narrowly lost a primary race for the House to Manny Diaz.

But Democrats have money on their side in candidate Jose Javier Rodriguez, who is one of the top fundraisers in the state for Democratic challengers.


Gadsden County

Incumbent Property Appraiser Clay Van Landingham, a Democrat, narrowly won his primary by a mere 80 votes. He now faces challenger Robert Peoples, a No Party Affiliation candidate.

There are also three county commission seats up for grabs, and all of the races have No Party Affiliated challengers facing off against incumbent Democrats. 

In the Gadsden County Sheriff’s race  Incumbent Democrat Morris Young won 85-percent of the vote in the primary. But his NPA Challenger Glen Russ, isn’t letting Morris have an easy time to re-election. Russ, a convicted felon has filed ethics charges against Young, but none have stuck.  

And Gadsden’s school superintendent Reginald James is facing a challenge from Millie Forehand, a former Quincy city commissioner.

Wakulla County

Longtime Wakulla Superintendent David Miller is retiring, leaving his seat open and up for grabs. The candidates are Democrat Robert Pearce and NPA Kimball “Kim” Thomas.

Another vacant seat up for grabs is Wakulla County Sheriff. David Harvey is now at the Florida Sheriff’s Association and this may be the year for Maurice Langston, who has challenged Harvey in the past. Langston, a Republican, is facing NPA Candidate Charlie Creel for the position.

Jefferson Co. School Superintendent Bill Brumfeld

Jefferson County

In Jefferson County, education is a big issue. In recent years the county has struggled to get itself back on sound financial footing after almost going bankrupt due to a corrupt former school superintendent. Current School Superintendent Bill Brumfeld has gotten the district back on sound financial footing, but he’s also faced backlash for having to layoff teachers, and shut down the districts only charter school. He’s facing seven other challengers, including two Republicans, three Democrats and two NPA’s.

Meanwhile there are two open school board seats. District One has five people vying for the position while District 4 has two contenders.

For elections updates throughout the night, follow us on twitter @wfsunews #wfsuvote

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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