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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Instead of House re-election, Rouson thought about Joyner's Senate seat

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rep. Darryl Rouson thinks that Sen. Darryl Rouson might sound nice one day -- just not this election year.

The St. Petersburg Democrat said Tuesday that he was contemplating challenging Tampa Democrat and incumbent state Sen. Arthenia Joyner for her District 18 seat instead of running for re-election in his own House District 55.

That was during his 1:30 p.m. meeting with the St. Petersburg Times editorial board. He had until the June 18 qualifying to make up his mind.

But then he called a Times reporter at 5 p.m. and said he had made up his mind: There will be no challenge.

"I have made a decision that I am 100 percent moving towards my re-election in the House,” he said.

Rouson said earlier Tueday that he was approached by Democrats in Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas counties to consider running against Joyner. He said there were questions about how well Joyner had been representing her non-Hillsborough constituents, though he would not name the party members he talked to.

But after his meeting with the Times, Rouson said he talked it out with unnamed party leaders and local Democrats and decided not to run against Joyner.

"I didn’t want to string things out,” he said. “It’s not fair to Sen. Joyner and party unity.”

Rouson had cautioned that the odds of such a move were "slight," or less than 50 percent.

As for his earlier criticism of Joyner, he said later Tuesday: “I believe that she is going to work harder at answering the needs of the constituents of her whole district.”

Joyner, the Democratic minority whip in the state Senate, was elected to the seat in 2006. She stood by her record.

"I'll hold it up to anybody," she said. "I represent all of the people of my district."

When asked whether there was a political rivalry between her and Rouson, she defended his right to do whatever he wants.

"Political rivalry? What does that mean?" Joyner said. "If an individual wants to run for something, they can do it."

Jamal Thalji, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:40pm]

    

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