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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Kurt Browning resigns as Florida secretary of state




Secretary of State Kurt Browning stepped down Wednesday morning as Florida's chief elections official and cultural affairs officer, making him the second agency head to resign in Gov. Rick Scott's young administration. His last day in office will be Feb. 17, which allows him to oversee the statewide presidential preference primary on Jan. 31. The governor will immediately start a search for a successor.

"I've been doing this for going on five years now," Browning told reporters as he exited Scott's office. "My home is in Pasco County. My wife's still in Pasco County, and it's stressful every Sunday afternoon when you have to load up the car and head north."

Browning, 53, a lifelong Pasco resident, said he decided over the holidays that he wanted to step down to spend more time with his wife Kathy, an 18-year employee of the Pasco County school district who lives at the couple's Dade City home. Browning has been the object of much speculation that he's considering running for the elected post of Pasco County superintendent of schools next fall. The current superintendent is Republican Heather Fiorentino, a former House member.

After serving 26 years as Pasco's supervisor of elections, he was appointed Secretary of State by former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007. He resigned in April 2010 and returned as a Scott appointee a year ago.

"Certainly it's an option," Browning said of running for superintendent. "That's not the reason I'm going home. As I stated before, it's to be with my wife and my family and my community."

Former secretary of corrections Edwin Buss resigned last August under pressure from the governor's office.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 2:56pm]


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