Longshot Democrat withdraws from Senate District 18 race against Wilton Simpson

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Longshot Democrat Joshua Smith, 22, of Hudson dropped out of the race for Senate District 18, leaving Democrats until next Thursday to find a replacement candidate. Otherwise, Wilton Simpson, a Republican egg farmer from Trilby, will win the seat unopposed, reports Lee Logan of the Tampa Bay Times.

Even if the party does find a new candidate, it’s too late to remove Smith’s name from the ballot. Elections officials would have to print notices telling voters that a vote for Smith would count for the new candidate. A notable similar scenario is House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford’s first campaign to the state House. After former Rep. Ken Littlefield was appointed to the Public Service Commission, his name remained on the ballot but his votes counted for Weatherford.

Finding a replacement is up to local party officials in Pasco, Hernando and Sumter, the counties covered by the sprawling District 18. Pasco Democratic chairman Lynn Lindeman said party leaders were unable to find a replacement in August when Wes Johnson of Tampa dropped out of the adjacent Senate District 17 race. He quipped: “You got anybody you want to run?” Lindeman said it would be tough to find a credible candidate on such a tight deadline: “It would not be our intention to identify a substitute candidate,” he 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 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.