Representatives to vie for vacant state Senate seat

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 30, 2007 at 10:43 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE - Two House members officially resigned their posts Monday, allowing Gov. Charlie Crist to set the dates for elections to fill the seats in Marion and Citrus counties.

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, and Rep. Charles Dean, R-Inverness, plan to run for the state Senate seat vacated by Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Dunnellon. Their last day will be Friday at the end of this year's legislative session.

Crist appointed Argenziano to the Public Service Commission last week. The PSC oversees rates and regulations for the state's utilities.

Crist set the primary election dates for June 5 and the general election for June 26. That is the same dates previously set for the Senate district.

Argenziano is resigning from the Senate on Wednesday.

Baxley, Dean and former Florida House Chief of Staff Richard Corcoran are campaigning to replace Argenziano. All three are Republicans.

Baxley, in what seemed to be an attempt to draw distinctions between himself and Dean, spoke adamantly on Monday in the Florida House against Dean's bill to allow instant bingo games in the state. Baxley had previously supported the idea.

Senate District 3 spreads from Citrus and Marion counties in the south through the rural counties west and north of Gainesville to the outskirts of Tallahassee and Jacksonville.

The race to replace Baxley has drawn three Republican candidates: Baxley's son, Damon Baxley; former Marion County Commissioner Parnell Townley and Marion County School Board member Kurt Kelly.

Among the candidates to replace Dean in the district that contains all of Citrus County and parts of Hernando and Levy counties is Mark Lunsford, who became a national spokesman for child protection when his 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, was killed in 2005. Lunsford has not officially entered the race. Gov. Charlie Crist said he would support Lunsford, who is a registered Democrat but will run as a Republican.

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