A last-minute challenger for Rivera
Candidate qualifying for legislative races closed at 12 noon on Friday, and six senators and at least 20 House members were elected or re-elected without opposition. (The state says the list won't be official until about 6 p.m., when all last-minute qualifying papers are reviewed).
Unopposed senators included Republicans Mike Bennett, Paula Dockery, Dennis Jones and newcomer Garrett Richter, and Democrats Larcenia Bullard and Frederica Wilson.
Among the unopposed House members were the three Republicans in line to be the next three speakers: Ray Sansom, Dean Cannon and Will Weatherford. Among the last-minute surprises was the appearance of 25-year-old Juan Espinosa of Miami (at right), who filed papers to challenge Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami. Espinosa, who described himself as an actor on a Miami Spanish-language TV station, said the incumbent hasn't done enough to address problems such as property taxes, property insurance and a lack of affordable housing.
Republicans recruited last-minute opponents for Democrats Scott Randolph of Orlando and Ron Saunders of Key West. Saunders, who was at the elections office, boldly predicted Democrats would gain between five and eight House seats this fall (Republicans hold a 77-43 advantage).