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Negron says "I'm in" for Foley seat

State Rep. Joe Negron, a Stuart attorney, has told the Miami Herald he will seek to become the replacement candidate on the November ballot for U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned Friday amid allegations he made advances to a 16-year-old congressional intern.

"I'm in this race, and I'm going to win," Negron said.

Negron faces an uphill battle to replace Foley, whose name will appear on the ballot in spite of Foley's resignation. Negron first must be appointed by the party's executive committee to be the replacement candidate, then voters would have to choose him over Democratic candidate Tim Mahoney.

"The voters of House District 16 want a congressman who supports their president, and I do," Negron said. "The district is smart enough to figure it out. I'm optimistic."

Negron, the head of the House Fiscal Council, has campaigned once before for Foley's congressional seat -- in 2004 when Foley planned to run for U.S. Senate.

However, Negron withdrew when Foley decided to stay in his district, partly at the urging of national Republicans nervous about Foley's rumored sexual orientation and in order to clear the way for then-Housing secretary Mel Martinez, who was elected.

Negron, who leaves his state legislative seat this year because of term limits, spent part of this year campaigning to be the Republican nominee for attorney general but dropped out when former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum entered the race.

Negron said he has $1 million available in his attorney general campaign account that he could now transfer to the congressional race.

"People have been calling non-stop to pledge their support and write checks to the federal account," Negron said.

He said state Sens. Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach and Lisa Carlton, of Osprey, have backed him, along with a Highlands County Rep. Denise Grimsley.

"I've campaigned in this district already. The people know me and I know the