Gov. Rick Scott has set the dates for a special election to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles, setting the stage for what could the first in a series of special elections in South Florida.
The special primary election in Senate District 40 is scheduled for July 25, with a special general election to follow on September 26.
While the Miami-based seat leans Democrat, Artiles, a Cuban-American Republican, defeated Dwight Bullard, an African-American Democrat, 51 percent to 41 percent in November. Bullard, a former state representative and senator, raised little money for the race and was viewed by many as an ineffective lawmaker.
Rep. Daisy Baez, a Coral Gables Democrat, has filed to run for the seat; while the Miami Herald reported Rep. Robert Asencio, a Miami Democrat, is also considering a run. Both are freshman Democrats. On the Republican side, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz is widely believed to be planning a run for the seat; and if he doesn’t.
Any sitting state lawmaker who were to run for the seat would need to resign to run, triggering a special election to fill their seat. That could lead to a significant change over in the Miami-Dade delegation.
Artiles resigned on April 21, after he made national news after he accosted Sen. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, and Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, calling her a “b****h” and a “girl” in a dispute over legislation at a private club in Tallahassee.
Artiles also used a slang variation of the ‘N-word,’ referring to white Republicans who supported Joe Negron as Senate President. Thurston and Gibson are black. Artiles apologized on the Senate floor.