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Few Surprises on First Day of Candidate Qualifying

signingOpening day of Florida's federal qualifying period came and went Monday without Gov. Charlie Crist or any of the top contenders for U.S. Senate filing papers - and Tuesday morning the governor said he still hasn't made a decision yet as to whether he'll run as a Republican.

Florida Republican Party Chairman John Thrasher said he hoped Crist would remain a Republican - but he didn't offer any advice on whether he should continue his Senate candidacy.

"I don't see where anybody has tried to push him away, so I hope he stays a Republican," Thrasher, a St. Augustine state senator said Monday.

But Thrasher said he'd gotten calls over the weekend from Republican activists concerned about Crist "moving away from the party." And, he said, "If I'm hearing from them, I assume he's hearing from them."

Meanwhile, Libertarian Alexander Snitker became that party's first-ever candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida by paying the fee yesterday. 

Snitker's entry ensures that Charlie Crist, if he runs as an NPA, would appear no higher than fifth on the November ballot, behind Republican Marco Rubio, Democrat Kendrick Meek, Libertarian Alexander Snitker and another NPA candidate, Sue Askeland of Stuart.  That's because No Party affiliation candidates are listed last on the ballot, and by alphabetical order, after the major and minor party candidates.

Crist spent Monday in Miami.

"I think he's agonizing about it, I really do. He's got himself into somewhat of a box and is now really beginning to agonize about what the right decision should be," Thrasher said.

Qualifying continues until noon Friday. The Florida Secretary of State's website shows almost 30 potential candidates for the Senate seat, with three having qualified Monday. As he left a pre-Cabinet media availability on Tuesday morning, Crist said he hadn't made up his mind yet on what he's going to do.

Locally, Congressman Ander Crenshaw and Congresswoman Corrine Brown both filed paperwork to seek re-election.  Crenshaw qualified by gathering petitions, while Brown paid the $10,440 fee for a spot on the ballot.

Republican Troy Stanley is planning to take on Crenshaw, but needs to finish raising the funds to file for a ballot slot by Friday at noon. 

The other candidate looking to challenge Crenshaw is a man named Gary Koniz.  When reached via phone, Koniz told the Jacksonville Observer that he was unable to raise the more than $6,000 needed to pay the fee as a No Party candidate and he will instead continue his campaign as a write-in. 

"I'm running on the Independent Labor platform for a prevailing wage to be set forth in Congress," said Koniz. "Hopefully we can restore the middle class to the United States."

"I am also running for a military resolution of the Drug War," Koniz added.  "I'm pretty sure I can get it [win the seat] as a write-in, and I'm an independent anyway.  Just by word of mouth we can take over, if we have a mind to do it."

Koniz says he's also running a "moral campaign" and is against pornography taking over prime time television.

Congresswoman Brown will face attorney Scott Fortune in the Democratic primary and at least one Republican, Mike Yost, in the general election.  Yost qualified by collecting the needed petitions to win a spot on the ballot, though he's expected to face several other fee-paying Republicans in an August primary.

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