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Argenziano sues to block new election law

Former state Sen. Nancy Argenziano filed a lawsuit Friday challenging a new state law that prevents her from running for Congress as a Democrat.

Argenziano was a Republican when she served in the Senate and was later a member of the Florida Public Service Commission. She is running for the 2nd Congressional District, which consists of 14 North Florida counties. The seat, which includes Tallahassee and Panama City,is currently represented by Republican Rep. Steve Southerland.

Argenziano switched from the GOP to the Independent Party on June 3.

"I wanted to get the heck out of the 'R' Party," she said. "My conscience wouldn't allow me to stay there."

But her Independent Party status was supposed to be temporary, she said. In August, she announced plans to run for Congress as a Democrat but within days it became clear the new law prohibited her from changing parties again.

She said she didn't fully understand then the new legislation Gov. Rick Scott signed into law on May 19. Among other things, the sweeping elections bill forbade switching parties less than 365 days before the qualifying period for a general election.

Qualifying for 2012 congressional elections will be from June 4-8, 2012.

She filed her lawsuit, naming Secretary of State Kurt Browning as the defendant, in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee. Attorney Janet Ferris, a former circuit judge,is representing Argenziano.

The Department of State had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. Spokesman Chris Cate said Argenziano dropped off a copy of the lawsuit Friday morning.

"We'll begin reviewing it soon," Cate said.