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State rep sets off race for Frederica Wilson's seat -- before it becomes open

State Sen. Frederica Wilson hasn't secured a seat in Congress yet. But that isn't stopping at least one person from jumping in an expected race to replace her in the Florida Legislature.

State Rep. Oscar Braynon II, a Miami Gardens Democrat with three years in the state House, announced his candidacy for Wilson's 33rd District seat Friday -- even though is not officially an opening for Wilson's post yet.

“As a member of the State Legislature, I have seen first-hand the tremendous impact that can be made within a community when there is honest, transparent and solid leadership," Braynon said in a written statement. "As the State rebounds from a tumultuous economic climate, I am committed to working hard to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens and underrepresented cities are not left behind.”

Florida does not require elected leaders running for federal office to resign from their exisiting posts, so Wilson, who was not up for re-election this year, did not have to give up her seat to vie for a spot in Congress. Only if she defeats lawyer Roderick Vereen, who is running without party affiliation, in November would Wilson have to resign. And then, depending on how long is left on her term, which expires in 2012, would the governor appoint someone to the vacancy or call for a special election to replace her.

UPDATE: Thanks to a sharp reader for pointing out that the governor cannot appoint someone to fill a vacancy in the Florida Senate, as the governor's office had originally told us this morning. (The governor can fill vacancies in the House, depending on how much time is left in a term.) If Wilson resigns, a special election will be held for her seat.