Friday, February 15, 2008

Crist sets special elections for March 25, April 15

I wonder about all this Juggling Going on around the nation.

Crist sets special elections for March 25, April 15
Published Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008 at 1:02 p.m.

Election day just got a lot sooner for thousands of voters in Manatee and Sarasota County.

Gov. Charlie Crist today set a special primary election for March 25 and a special general election for April 15 to fill the now vacant state House District 55.

The seat became vacant last week when Crist appointed Rep. Frank Peterman Jr., D-St. Petersburg, to be the new secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The bulk of District 55 is located in south St. Petersburg, but almost 40 percent of the district’s voters are from Manatee and Sarasota counties. The district includes large portions of Palmetto, Bradenton, Tallevast and Newtown.

Already three Democratic candidates have filed to run for the seat. Former Sarasota resident and activist Charles McKenzie Jr., attorney Darryl E. Rouson, and St. Petersburg city councilman Earnest Williams have all filed to run.

No Republicans have filed yet.

District 55 is almost certain to remain in Demcoratic hands. Of the 69,291 voters in the district, 70 percent are registered Democrats.

The winner of the election would not take office until until the last two weeks of the spring Legislative Session, which starts on March 4 and runs through the first week of May.

For Sarasota the special election now means Sarasota's Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent, will have to run four elections in six weeks. On March 11, Dent was already set to hold elections for special districts like Holiday Park, then on March 18 Longboat Key holds its town council elections. Then after District 55 elections, Dent could get a fifth election on May 6, the date county commissioners are looking at putting a countywide issue on the ballot.

Including the presidential primary in January, the regular primary in August, and the general election in November, Sarasota will have had 8 elections over 11 months.

"We used to joke that we are having elections quarterly," Dent joked. "But now we've just decided to have them monthly."

The good news is that the state will reimburse Sarasota and Manatee for costs associated with the District 55 special election.
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