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Along the Campaign Trail…

DRUG CHARGE WON’T DEFEAT CANDIDATE: A candidate for State House District 1 says he’s staying in the race despite felony drug trafficking charges. The Northwest Florida Daily News reported last week that Ricky Perritt will remain on the ballot, partly because there isn’t enough time to remove his name anyway before the Aug. 24 primary. But Perritt also maintains his innocence and considers himself still a candidate. Perritt, who is accused of fraudulently obtaining hydrocodone pills through his wife - who was also arrested– turned himself in to police, but later held a news conference to say he’s still running. “The word ‘quit’ is not in my vocabulary,” Perritt said in a statement, according to the Daily News. He is out on bond, and told the newspaper: “Unfortunately, there is no way to prove my innocence before the election.” Perritt is one of five Republicans trying to replace Rep. Greg Evers, R-Baker, who is running for Senate. The winner of the primary will face NPA candidate Mathias Venditto.The district is the western-most House district in the state, and covers parts of Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties.

LIBERTARIAN PRIMARY WILL BE FIRST: Two candidates for state House District 33 will compete in the first third-party primary in Florida history Aug. 24. Franklin Perez, who has run for the seat in the past with no party affiliation, is running this year as a Libertarian candidate. So is Ellen Paul, setting up an intra-party fight usually reserved for the major parties in Florida. State election officials said the primary was made possible by a change in state law allowing third-party candidates to announce the party of their choosing. "In the past, in order to be the Libertarian candidate on the ballot, you had to be nominated by the Libertarian Party," Seminole County Libertarian Party Chairman Sean Concannon explained in the Seminole Chronicle this spring. "One of the reasons Franklin (Perez) ran NPA was because he could never get that nomination. In fact, he asked for it and was declined." The current occupant of the seat, Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, is running for Congress. Three Republicans, Alice Sterling, Jason Brodeur and James DeCocq, are also running to replace her. The Democratic candidate is Leo Cruz.

AN UGLY RACE IN MIAMI: Dishing dirt may be common place in election year campaigning, but seldom does one candidate refer to another candidate as having an “ugly mug.” The Miami Herald reported late last week that a mysterious mailer raises allegations about two of the four Republicans in the Aug. 24 primary for House District 116 in the Miami area, calling one a drug user and one a dangerous “Arab.” It also calls candidate Carlos Manrique “ugly.” The mailer said it was paid for and approved by Alex Diaz, a write-in candidate, but three of the candidates said they believe it came from another candidate, Francisco Amador. Diaz could not be reached for comment by the Herald and Amador did not call a reporter back after first telling her that he wanted to verify her employment. “How are we going to send an ugly mug to Tallahassee,” the mailer said in Spanish, referring to Manrique.

CAMPAIGN OPERATIVE WATCH...

MICHAEL CANTONE has joined Heather Beaven’s campaign for Congress as campaign manager. Beaven, a Democrat, is trying to unseat U.S. Rep. John Mica in District 7. Cantone has worked on campaigns in Florida, Virginia, Missouri, Georgia also worked for a bit in Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate office. Cantone is a graduate of Saint Louis University. Frank Karabassis continues as campaign finance director.

GOVERNOR’S RACE: Republican gubernatorial candidates Rick Scott and Bill McCollum debated on Monday at the Univision studios in Miami. Neither said much they haven’t already said during the Republican primary, and neither made any gaffes that would change the campaign dramatically. The debate was scheduled to air Monday night on Univision stations in some Florida markets. Scott and McCollum meet in another debate in Tampa on Thursday. That debate also won’t air statewide, but will be seen in the Tampa and Orlando markets.

COMING UP...

WAUSAU POSSUM FESTIVAL: Back in the Depression (the “Great” one) the people of Washington County supposedly survived thanks only the local abundance of possum. So now, every year in August, when it’s so hot and humid in the interior Panhandle that you go into a depression, the people of the tiny town of Wausau throw a Possum Festival. They crown a Possum queen, eat lots of possum, and all the area candidates turn up. Former state Rep. Bev Kilmer once said voters in the central Panhandle judge candidates mostly on whether they'll bother to show up here and eat some possum with the regular folks. This year’s Possum Festival is this coming Saturday, Aug. 7, in downtown Wausau. If you find the town on a map, you’ll find the festival.

CFC GUBERNATORIAL FORUM: Republicans Rick Scott, Bill McCollum and independent candidate Lawton "Bud" Chiles will attend the Christian Family Coalition's 2010 Gubernatorial Candidates' Forum Saturday, Aug. 7, in Miami. Presumptive Democratic nominee Alex Sink has also been invited, but has not confirmed her attendance.

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