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Former Florida Democratic Party chairman running for Florida Senate seat

Former State Sen. Rod Smith is aiming for a return to the Florida Senate.

Smith on Tuesday officially filed to run for Senate District 8, a newly redrawn North Florida district that includes all of his home county of Alachua County, plus all of Putnam County and part of Marion County.

“I have chosen to re-enter public service because, while political leaders now running Tallahassee keep assuring us that everything is just fine, we here in North Central Florida know better," Smith said in a press release announcing his candidacy.

Smith, who was the running mate for Alex Sink during her 2010 campaign against Gov. Rick Scott, is one of the state Democrats biggest hopes to pick up a seat in the Florida Senate that is dominated by Republicans now. Republicans currently have a 26-14 advantage in the Senate. Before the latest round of redistricting, Alachua, Putnam and Marion were split into three different districts, all of which are held by Republicans now.

The courts forced all of the state's 40 senate districts to be redrawn for this year's elections because it ruled the Legislature has violated the state constitution's provision barring them from drawing districts to favor candidates or political parties.

State Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, has announced he is also running for the seat.

The new District 8 is a district President Barack Obama won in 2012 by just over 1 percent over Republican Mitt Romney.

Smith served in the Florida Senate from 2000 to 2006, when he left to run for governor. He lost in a primary to Democrat Jim Davis, who in turn lost to then-Republican Charlie Crist.