More than 220 Florida candidates have already reserved spots on 2012 ballot by collecting petition signatures

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With every legislative and congressional seat up for election this year, more than 220 candidates have already reserved spots on the ballot by collecting petition signatures.

The total likely will grow, as elections officials still have another week to check the piles of petitions submitted by campaigns. But as of Monday, they had verified that 46 congressional candidates, 30 state Senate candidates and 146 state House candidates had submitted enough valid signatures.

Those candidates range from incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, to Green Party and Libertarian candidates. The totals also include 85 incumbent members of Congress and the Legislature.

While candidates can pay a fee to get on the ballot, some campaigns in recent weeks have touted petition-gathering as a way to show popularity.

“Bev Slough is blessed with friends, family and volunteers who assisted her campaign in qualifying for Congress, not by paying a fee, but with signatures from over 2,500 voters,” said a statement Monday from Brian Graham, a spokesman for Slough, who is running in a Northeast Florida congressional district.

The verified signatures also are another step toward what promise to be hotly contested races this summer and fall. Among the candidates getting enough verified signatures were Republican U.S. Reps. Sandy Adams and John Mica, who are ready to battle in newly drawn Central Florida district.

Other examples include state Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, and former Sen. Nancy Argenziano, a Homosassa independent, who are preparing for a high-profile House race in Citrus and Hernando counties.

The full slate of this year’s candidates will not be known until the formal qualifying week, June 4 to June 8. Fees vary for those candidates who decide not to collect petition signatures. Congressional candidates running with party affiliation, for example, must pay $10,440; legislative candidates with party affiliation must pay $1,781, according to the state Division of Elections.

The number of required petition signatures also varies. Congressional candidates must submit 2,298 valid signatures, state Senate candidates must submit 1,552, and state House candidates must submit 518.

In one way, collecting petition signatures likely was easier this year than in ordinary elections. Because of the redistricting process, candidates were allowed to collect signatures from throughout the state.

Gaetz, for example, submitted 2,091 verified signatures that came from counties stretching from Escambia to Monroe, according to a listing on the state website.

State House candidate Randy Johnson says “very proud that while many of the cards came from inside the district, most came from those who know me around the state.”

“I ran three statewide campaigns and Im proud to still have those relationships that came from the efforts.”

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

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.