After failing to convince a judge to let her run in a Big Bend congressional race as a Democrat, former Public Service Commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano has switched gears and instead plans to again seek a state House seat.
Argenziano, a lifelong Republican who switched to the Independent Party last year, challenged a provision in Florida law that limits candidates from changing their party affiliation to a year before the qualifying period for the general election. The time constraint used to be six months, but was included in a sweeping election law signed by Gov. Rick Scott in June that is now being challenged by the Justice Department. A Tallahassee judge ruled in favor of the law last week.
Argenziano said she inadvertently switched her GOP party registration to the Independent Party shortly before the law went into effect last year instead of opting for no party affiliation, or “NPA,” which would have left her free to sign up as a Democrat.
Today, Argenziano said she’s dropping out of the race against incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, a Republican, because she won’t be able to raise the money to compete in the Panhandle race.
Instead, she’s going after the state House seat now held by Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, in her Citrus County home. Smith gained notoriety for sponsoring a controversial measure pushed by Gov. Rick Scott that would allow state agency heads to order random, suspicionless drug testing of state workers. Scott signed that into law this week and said he would immediately implement it before his office said he wouldn’t until a federal lawsuit regarding his executive order of the drug tests is settled.
“He does not have the knowledge, experience, or independence to represent them the way they deserve. He seems to be just another ‘go along’ elected official who does what he is told, rather then act on the basis of what his district needs. Most recently, his responses to questions regarding his bill mandating random drug testing of the most efficient public work force in the nation, were embarrassing,” Argenziano, who also served in the Florida Senate, said in a press release.
Argenziano said she’s going to run as an Independent “and return a sense of what it means to be a member of the legislature: to represent the people of the district in committee rooms and hallways; to represent them fairly and knowledgeably in the public square; to represent them against forces always conniving to get more than a fair share of the public resource.”