A flurry of candidates file to run for Florida Legislature

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A flood of campaign filings this week show a number of competitors drawn to races across the state.

In South Florida, Majority Leader Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and incoming House Minority Leader Rep. Mark Pafford each picked up challengers for the GOP primaries in previously unopposed re-election bids.

Republican Thomas Mark LePine opened a campaign account Monday in the race to unseat Benacquisto in Senate District 30, the area including Fort Myers and parts of Charlotte and Lee Counties.

While unopposed, Benacquisto raised $491,812 through the end of November.

Republican Stuart Wade Mears opened an account Friday to compete against Pafford in House District 86, which includes Wellington and part of Palm Beach County.

Pafford, slated to become House Democratic leader after the November 2014 elections, has already raised $19,256 through the end of November.

In House District 5, where Rep. Marti Coley faces term limits this year, a Republican primary competition is starting to shape up.

The Friday filing of Santa Rosa Beach real estate agent Jan Hooks will put her against former Rep. Brad Drake for the GOP primary in the region including Holmes, Jackson, Walton and Washington counties and a portion of Bay County.

Drake served in the House from 2008 to 2012, stepping aside when he and Coley faced each other in the same area after reapportionment.

In House District 35, Democrat Rose Rocco also opened an account Friday to go against term-limited Republican Rep. Rob Schenck in the district covering Spring Hill and part of Hernando County.

Democrat David Welch and Republican Blaise Ingoglia are also running for HD 35. Ingoglia raised $89,336 through the end of November.

In House District 8, Tallahassee Democrat DeWayne Harvey opened a campaign account Monday, which includes Gadsden County and parts of Leon County.

Although HD 8 incumbent Rep. Alan Williams can run again in 2014, rumors have him looking to a local office. Along with Harvey and Williams, three other Democrats have also established campaign accounts in the district: Ramon Alexander, Clarence Jackson and Brad Johnson.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.