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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Daniel Horton says it's 'best decision' to drop Senate bid, seek House seat in Keys instead

After talking with his primary opponent and Democratic Party officials in recent weeks, Democrat Daniel Horton said Sunday he is dropping his bid for a competitive Senate seat in South Florida and is turning his ambitions to a state House seat.

Horton announced his bid for state Senate less than a month ago.

The 30-year-old FIU law school graduate aimed to challenge Democrat Andrew Korge in the August primary for the District 39 Senate seat, which represents parts of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. The winner of that contest would have faced state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who's seeking re-election.

Flores and Korge had already been embroiled in a bitter race when Horton jumped in the fray.

But in a press release Sunday afternoon, Korge said Horton was bowing out of that contest and planning to, instead, challenge incumbent state Rep. Holly Raschein for the District 120 House seat.

In an interview with the Herald/Times, Horton confirmed his decision to switch legislative races.

"At the end of the day, I figure this is the best decision for the people that live in District 39, I think it's the best decision for the Democratic Party, and I think it's the best decision for myself," Horton said.

In his campaign statement, Korge said Horton was also endorsing him in the Senate primary, allowing Korge to focus on a general election fight against Flores. (Independent Sheila Lucas George is also running.)

"I sat down and had some nice, long conversations with Andrew, with people from the Democratic Party and we're on the same page," Horton said. "One of the primary reasons I was in the District 39 race was because I vehemently disagree with everything Anitere stands for, and I found out that's something that Andrew and I definitely have in common. I think he's going to be a great candidate."

The District 39 seat is one that Democrats want to pick up in the 2016 election, which would narrow the Republican majority in the chamber. The district leans Democratic and Hispanic, giving both Korge and Flores a chance at the seat. As of early April, it was already the most expensive Senate race in the state.

"Democrats are never going to take back seats in Tallahassee if they're fighting amongst themselves, instead of focusing on the Republicans," Horton said.

Sunday afternoon, none of Horton's social media accounts, nor his official website, mentioned his withdrawal from the Senate race and switch to the House race. The state elections website still lists Horton as a state Senate candidate.

Horton said he overnighted paperwork on Friday to officially change his candidacy, and he said he'll update his website and social media accounts once the state acknowledges that switch.

Korge praised Horton in his campaign statement on Sunday.

“Dan Horton has a bright future ahead of him and it is wonderful to have his support,” Korge said.

Horton said he and Korge "will be working together a lot" during the campaign season going forward. When asked whether Horton was promised anything in return for dropping out of the Senate race, Horton reiterated the amicable discussions he'd had with Korge.

"We're pretty much in line with all of our political beliefs, we don't think very highly of Anitere and we decided to work together," he said.

With a shift to the state House contest, Horton would face Democrats Kevin Diaz and Artie Leichner in the August primary. However, The Key West Citizen reported Sunday that Liechner was dropping out of the race to become a senior policy adviser with the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. The Citizen also first reported Horton's decision to switch races.

Raschein, R-Key Largo, has no Republican challengers. She is seeking a third term to the state House -- representing southern Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, including the Florida Keys. (The district overlaps with the Senate's District 39.)

Posted 4:25 p.m.; Updated 11:31 p.m.

[Last modified: Sunday, May 1, 2016 11:36pm]

    

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