Will Secretary of State Kurt Browning step down and run against Heather Fiorentino for Pasco School Superintendent?

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A day after current Pasco County School District superintendent Heather Fiorentino announced her intention to seek a third term, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning – a former Pasco County Supervisor of Elections – is considering stepping down later this month to challenge Fiorentino in a Republican primary.

The prospect of Browning, and perhaps others, challenging Fiorentino prompted the latter to move up her timetable for announcing.

“I think right now while we still have a turbulent economic situation going on, we want to make sure we have steady leadership,” Fiorentino said Tuesday (via Jeffrey S. Solochek), after filing paperwork to kick off her campaign.

Along with Browning, speculation of a challenger to Fiorentino has focused on two other possibilities: former assistant superintendent Ray Gadd, whom Fiorentino let go in 2009 and School Board member Steve Luikart, a retired assistant principal.

Evidently, Browning has been bit (again) by the political bug, according to a source close to Browning.  That said, Browning still has not finalized his decision.  Spokespeople for both Browning and Gov. Scott said that there has not been any official discussion between the two officials.

Browning remains a popular figure in Pasco County, having earned a positive reputation after 26 years as Supervisor of Elections office.

Browning was first appointed Secretary of State in December 2006 by Governor Charlie Crist. He was reappointed by Governor Rick Scott. His tenure under Scott has not been without controversy. Browning’s office rushed to immediately implement Florida’s controversial new election law in 62 of Florida’s 67 counties, while holding off in the remaining five counties till the U.S. Department of Justice approved the changes — a necessary step under the Voting Rights Act because of the history of discriminatory voting rules in those five counties.

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.