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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Joe Negron for Congress



State Rep. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, quickly emerged as a Republican contender for the seat in Congress abruptly vacated Friday by Mark Foley.

Negron had spent 18 months campaigning for attorney general, but he stepped aside in July after concluding he had no chance of winning the nomination against former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, who had two statewide races under his belt. Negron's classy exit engendered a lot of goodwill in GOP circles. Negron now claims to have nearly $1-million left over in his campaign account for A.G., and most of that can be moved to a congressional campaign (corporate checks are banned in federal races).

"I'll be making calls all night," Negron told The Buzz. He said he has secured endorsements from Palm Beach County Republican chairman Sid Dinerstein and from state Sens. Ken Pruitt, Jeff Atwater and Lisa Carlton, all of whom represent parts of the 16th Congressional District, as well as Rep. Denise Grimsley of Highlands County.

Negron had figured his political career was over for now. He saw a couple of online stories Friday morning about Foley's e-mails, but he was practicing law when he suddenly realized he had 26 messages on his cell phone and his BlackBerry was "going crazy."

Whether Negron is the choice of local Republican leaders is up to 24 people -- the chairmen, state committeemen and state committeewomen representing the eight counties that comprise the sprawling district, which runs from West Palm Beach to Punta Gorda.

The decision will come quickly. Negron says he's not worried that he has to run in a race in which Foley will remain on the ballot, that voters are smart enough to discern what's going on and choose the representative they want.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:48pm]


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