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Rick Scott sets special election dates to replace Frank Artiles in Senate

Gov. Rick Scott has set the dates for a special election to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles, setting the stage for what could the first in a series of special elections in South Florida.

The special primary election in Senate District 40 is scheduled for July 25, with a special general election to follow on September 26.

While the Miami-based seat leans Democrat, Artiles, a Cuban-American Republican, defeated Dwight Bullard, an African-American Democrat, 51 percent to 41 percent in November. Bullard, a former state representative and senator, raised little money for the race and was viewed by many as an ineffective lawmaker.

Rep. Daisy Baez, a Coral Gables Democrat, has filed to run for the seat; while the Miami Herald reported Rep. Robert Asencio, a Miami Democrat, is also considering a run. Both are freshman Democrats. On the Republican side, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz is widely believed to be planning a run for the seat; and if he doesn’t, Rep. Jeanette Nuñez could throw her hat in the race.

Any sitting state lawmaker who were to run for the seat would need to resign to run, triggering a special election to fill their seat. That could lead to a significant change over in the Miami-Dade delegation.

Artiles resigned on April 21, after he made national news after he accosted Sen. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, and Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, calling her a “b****h” and a “girl” in a dispute over legislation at a private club in Tallahassee.

Artiles also used a slang variation of the ‘N-word,’ referring to white Republicans who supported Joe Negron as Senate President. Thurston and Gibson are black. Artiles apologized on the Senate floor.

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