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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Waters won't run for District 51 seat



SEMINOLE - Leslie Waters has decided to forego a chance to reclaim her state House seat but says she will eventually run for state Senate.

Waters' decision has left local Republicans in a quandary. Pinellas Republican party chairman Tony Dimatteo said party officials are looking for a suitable candidate. They have until the close of business Monday, he said, to find someone.

"Until then, it's up in the air," Dimatteo said.

The hard part, he said, is the timing. The ballots cannot be changed and any candidate would have to run under Sanchez's name.

Republicans asked Waters last weekend if she would replace Terry Sanchez in the race for House District 51. Sanchez on Monday officially pulled out of the race against Democrat incumbent Janet Long. Sanchez. who was making her first run for public office, said she did not realize that a political campaign would be all consuming and take so much time from her family and business.

Waters, who termed out of the House District 51 seat in 2006, is well known and appeared to be a logical choice to replace Sanchez. But Waters declined Wednesday.

"Although I appreciate the overwhelming outpour of encouragement from the community to run for H-51, I will, however, not be running for the Florida House seat left open by the withdrawal of Terry Sanchez. To put together a 41-day campaign without my name even being on the ballot would be ridiculous!" Waters said in a written statement.

"I intend to continue to concentrate on building my government relations firm, accepting democracy training assignments to SE Asia, and working for a future run for the State Senate," Waters added.

District 51 winds through Pinellas including Seminole, parts of Pinellas Park, Largo, South Pasadena and a sliver of the unincorporated west Lealman area.

Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:36am]


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