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Democratic challengers emerge in HD 49, HD 95

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Two very different House seats drew new Democratic challengers last week and on Tuesday, according to filings with the Florida Division of Elections.

State Rep. Rene Plasencia, a Republican from the Orlando area, will face at least one challenger from the other side of the aisle in his quest for a third term representing the closely competitive District 49, consisting of part of Orange County along the I-4 corridor in the center of the state.

The district offers Democrats a voter registration advantage, but state Rep. Joe Saunders was knocked off by Plasencia last year amid low turnout in the November midterms.

Democrats there are hoping Augustin “Gus” Martinez, who runs a religious charity to aid the homeless, can rally the Democratic faithful. Saunders told SaintPetersblog last month he is considering a run in his old seat in which he would immediately become the Dems’ frontrunner were he to mount a bid.

Meanwhile, in a race with a very different electoral complexion, two Democrats are now engaged in a primary to succeed term-limited state Rep. Hazelle “Hazel” Rogers in deep-blue District 95, based in Broward County’s Lauderdale Lakes.

Patrick Jabouin, Sr. has opened a campaign account to run there, joining fellow Democrat Roxanne Valies, who filed paperwork to run for the House back in March.

Jabouin was a community outreach liaison with Broward Sheriff Scott Israel‘s office as of 2013. He is also a former president of the Caribbean American Democratic Club of Broward County, according to Brittany Wallman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

[Update 5/20: revised to reflect that Martinez is running in District 49, not District 39 as was originally reported in his Division of Elections paperwork.]

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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