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Argenziano loses lawsuit, can't run as a Democrat

A Tallahassee-based Circuit Court judge ruled against former state Senator Nancy Argenziano, saying the Department of State is not violating her rights by barring her from running for Congress as a Democrat.

Argenziano was a Republican until she registered as an Independent in June, but she hoped to run for the 2nd Congressional District as a Democrat. However, laws passed in 2011 prohibit her from changing her party affiliation within 365 days of the qualifying period, which for congressional elections is June 4-8, 2012.

Circuit Judge James Shelfer said previous cases consistently upheld the constitutionality of such "dissafiliation requirements," some with loyalty periods even greater than Florida's current 1-year window. He pointed out that Argenziano still has the right to run for Congress, either as a member of the Independent Party or with no party affiliation.

Argenziano said she isn't sure if she will appeal today's ruling, especially with mounting legal costs. If she decides to let the ruling stand, she will likely run for the seat, which consists of 14 North Florida counties, as an Independent.

"I just don't like being forced by the state to have to pick a party (and) for them to tell me which party I should be able to run in," she said.

Other candidates for the 2nd Congressional District seat are Incumbent Steve Southerland, a Republican, and Democrats Al Lawson, Leonard  BembryJay  Liles, and Alvin Peters.