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Argenziano drops congressional bid, will run for state House instead

Former State Senator Nancy Argenziano said she will abandon her campaign for Congress and instead move back to Citrus County and challenge incumbent Jimmie Smith for his seat in the Florida House.

Argenziano, who currently lives in Tallahassee, said she will move back into a home she owns in unincorporated Citrus County near Crystal River. She will campaign under her current Independent Party affiliation.

Argenziano had hoped to run for Congress as a Democrat, but last week a judge ruled against her challenge of a state law that prohibited her from switching parties. She decided not to appeal.

Without a major party's backing, it would have been nearly impossible to raise the money to be competitive in a congressional bid, Argenziano said Wednesday. She also didn't want to be a spoiler that prohibited a Democratic candidate from unseating incumbent Rep. Steve Southerland, a Panama City Republican.

"I firmly believe Steve Southerland needs to be sent home," she said.

For months, former constituents in Citrus County had asked Argenziano to consider a return to the Legislature, she said. But she wanted to resolve her court challenge before she made decisions.

She said the smaller geographic area represented by state representatives will make it much easier for her to win the seat even as a member of a minor political party.

Argenziano said Smith, who was first elected in 2010, is the wrong person to represent Citrus County. The final straw was when he sponsored legislation that allows the random testing of state employees. Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 1205 into law this week, but is delaying implementation because of pending legal challenges.

 "Jimmie Smith has proven to me that he's just another go-along," she said.