TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – As Democrats hope to dent Republican majorities in both legislative chambers, the major parties will clash in 96 of 120 state House seats and 17 of 20 Senate contests, according to data posted by the Florida Division of Elections after the qualifying ended Friday at noon.
Candidates were required to file paperwork and fees by noon Friday for August primary and November general elections. As of Saturday morning, 322 candidates qualified for House seats and 65 others qualified to run for the Senate.
Just eleven incumbent Democrats, all House members, and Republican Rep. Brad Drake of Eucheeanna had no opposition.
Eight of 29 upcoming GOP House primaries feature incumbents. Republicans Mike Hill of Pensacola, Alex Andrade of Pensacola, Jay Trumbull of Panama City, Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville, Scott Plakon of Longwood, Thad Altman of Indialantic, Randy Fine of South Brevard County, and Daniel Perez of Miami will face challengers on Aug. 18.
All of the 12 incumbent senators up for reelection also are being challenged, and eight open seats in the upper chamber are up for grabs.
Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, faces independent Christina Paylan of St. Pete Beach.
Six Democrats are seeking to replace Sen. Oscar Braynon, a Miami Gardens Democrat who cannot seek reelection due to term limits. Candidates on the ballot include former Sen. Daphne Campbell, former Rep. Cynthia Stafford, and state Reps. Shevrin Jones and Barbara Watson.
The winner of the Democratic primary will not face a November challenger, thanks to write-in candidate Darien Hill.
In Senate District 33, incumbent Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, faces a match-up with Terry Ann Williams Edden of Pompano Beach, Steven Meza of Boca Raton and Shelton A. Pooler of Pompano Beach. The primary election will be open to all voters because there are no candidates of another party in the race.
A crowded field of Democrats also has emerged for a hotly contested Central Florida seat held by Sen. David Simmons, a term-limited Republican from Altamonte Springs. Democrats are hoping to capture the seat to make gains on the GOP’s 23-17 majority in the Senate.
The primary winner in the District 9 contest will go up against Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, on Nov. 3.
In Senate District 29, which straddles Palm Beach and Broward counties, Rep. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton will go head-to-head in the August primary against former Rep. Irv Slosberg, the father of state Rep. Emily Slosberg of Boca Raton. The Democrats are seeking to replace Sen. Kevin Rader, a Delray Beach Democrat who is not seeking reelection.
Republicans will have four primaries for Senate seats held by out-going senators. Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton and Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers; Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island; and Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, are all leaving due to term limits.
Republican Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen of Fort Myers and Ray Rodrigues of Estero will face off in the GOP primary for Benacquisto’s District 27 seat.
The winners of all four Senate GOP primaries await a match-up against a Democrat in November.
Ten incumbent House Democrats, meanwhile, are set to return Tallahassee, after drawing no opponents before Friday’s noon deadline.
Reps. Ramon Alexander of Tallahassee, Kamia Brown of Ocoee, James Bush of Miami, Dan Daley of Coral Springs, Fentrice Driskell of Tampa, Joe Geller of Aventura, Michael Gottlieb of Davie, Michael Grieco of Miami Beach, Dianna Hart of Tampa, and Evan Jenne of Dania Beach were reelected without a contest.
Another Democrat was elected to the House without having to go before voters.
Orlando Democrat Travaris McCurdy will replace term-limited Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando. McCurdy is a former legislative aide to Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, and Sen. Randolph Bracy, D- Ocoee.
Democrats are in line to retain another 11 House seats. Only Democrats are running in nine primaries. In two other races, incumbents Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale and Dotie Joseph of North Miami face challenges.
Write-in candidates have closed off two other House contests to just Democrats.
In Broward County’s District 96, Saima Farooqui of Coconut Creek and Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky are looking to replace the late Rep. Kristin Jacobs, who died earlier this year. Incumbent Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat, is trying to hold onto her seat against challenger Angie Nixon.
The qualifying period for a special election to replace Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, runs from 8 a.m. Tuesday to noon Wednesday.
Former state Rep. Danny Burgess, a Republican from Zephyrhills, and Wesley Chapel Democrat Kathy Lewis have filed to replace Lee, a former Senate president who announced late last month that he is not seeking reelection.
Lewis ran unsuccessfully against Lee in 2018.
Lee, who is stepping down with two years remaining on his term, and Gov. Ron DeSantis have already endorsed Burgess, who was the governor’s executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Burgess resigned from the post to run for the Senate District 20 seat.
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