Argenziano sues to join Democratic Party

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A former Republican lawmaker seeking to run for Congress as a Democrat filed suit against the state Friday, saying a new elections law unconstitutionally bars her from joining her new desired party, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

Nancy Argenziano, who currently plans to run for the congressional seat as a member of the Independent Party, filed suit in Leon County circuit court, saying the law violates the state and federal constitutions by treating partisan candidates differently than nonaffiliated candidates and trampling on the right of free association.

The controversial elections law passed the Legislature earlier this year has already come under fire from voting-rights groups who claim it aims to cut back on legitimate voting. A three-judge panel in the District of Columbia is reviewing other parts of the bill that could affect minorities under the Voting Rights Act.

In a press conference to announce the lawsuit, Argenziano argued that leaders of her former party like Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, are trying to protect GOP power with the bill.

“I object that the Legislature and more specifically, Haridopolos, Cannon and Baxley, abetted by the schemes and pocketbooks of the Koch brothers, have manipulated to limit with whom I can politically associate, for what purposes and during what time frames, without founding such restrictions on a legitimate, identifiable and overriding state interest — without, in fact, even implying such an interest,” Argenziano said.

The former lawmaker bolted the party in 2010, after its nomination of Gov. Rick Scott and endorsed then-Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the governor’s race. Argenziano has since become a consistent critic of the Republican Party, announcing earlier this year that she would challenge Republican Congressman Steve Southerland.

But Argenziano was later told she couldn’t run as a Democrat because Baxley’s legislation changed the time frame for changing parties from six months before the election to a year before the qualifying period for that legislation. Argenziano had filed as an Independent on June 3 “as a placeholder” while she figured out what to do with her partisan affiliation after becoming disillusioned with the GOP, she said.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.