Sarasota Democrats launch campaign listen06/09/08 Virginia Hoffman
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The Sarasota County Democratic Party held a press conference on Friday to officially launch a coordinated campaign effort for 2008. A slate of 20 Democrats vying for 18 local races was introduced.
A crowd of approximately 60 people gathered at Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota. It has been decades since this county known as a Republican stronghold has seen such competitive activity from Democrats.
Sarasota vice Mayor Ken Shelin introduced Rita Ferrandino, chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Sarasota County, and each candidate. Shelin a Democrat, won his race with a 65 percent of the vote in 2005.
Christine Jennings, who is running for Congress for a third time said she is confident about her chances in 2008. Jennings challenged the results of the 2006 race for the 13th Congressional District due to an 18,000 under vote. She was awarded an automatic recount by coming in 369 votes shy of her opponent Vern Buchanan.
Jono Miller is the first Democrat to run for County Commission in Sarasota in 40 years. Originally his chief opponent was Republican Incumbent Paul Mercier, but Mercier dropped out of the race. Past Mayor Carolyn Mason who originally ran as a Democrat and then switched to Republican has entered the race to challenge Miller.
Morgan Bentley recently switched from no-party affiliate to run as a Democrat for state Senate District 23. Bentley, president of the Sarasota Bar Association, will face either Michael Grant or Nancy Detert, they are currently in a competitive Republican primary. Republican Lisa Carlton is vacating the seat due to term limits.
Adam Tebrugge is running for Public Defender. Tebrugge talked about his motivation for running and about the momentum Democrats are feeling.
The county Party held a private fundraiser after the press conference.
John Reid, Florida Democratic Party senate political director, said the 23rd Senate district is targeted as one of the most winnable for Democrats.
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