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Jose Felix Diaz, six others qualify to run in SD 40 special election

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The race is set.

State records show seven candidates — three Republicans, three Democrats and one no party affiliation candidate — have qualified to run in the special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40.

The one-day qualifying period was set to end at noon Wednesday for the special election. State records show Republicans Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and Lorenzo Palomares; and Democrats Ana Rivas Logan, Steve Smith, and Annette Taddeo qualified as of noon Wednesday. Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth, a no party affiliation candidate, has also qualified to run.

Artiles resigned in April after he made national news after used a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues.

Diaz, who currently serves as the chairman of the Regulatory Affairs Committee, was first elected to the Florida House in 2010. A well-liked and respected member of the House, Diaz was the chamber’s point man on gambling legislation. He resigned his seat, effective Sept. 26, to run for the Senate seat.

Diaz de la Portilla served in the Florida House from 1994 until 2000, before transitioning to the Florida Senate. He served there from 2000 until 2010, serving as the Senate President Pro Tempore from 2002 to 2004, and Senate Majority Leader from 2008 to 2010.

Rivas Logan, a former Republican member of the Florida House, ran as a Democrat in Senate District 40 in 2016, but lost the primary to then-Sen. Dwight Bullard.

Taddeo ran in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, where she faced former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in the Democratic Party. She received 49 percent of the vote to Garcia’s 51 percent. In 2014, she was former Gov. Charlie Crist’s running mate when he ran for governor as a Democrat.

The special primary election is July 25, with the special general election scheduled for Sept. 26. A special election in House District 116, triggered by Diaz’s resignation, has been scheduled for the same days.

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