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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dwight Dudley eyeing judgeship as he leaves Florida House



State Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, will not run for re-election, he announced Monday.

"There are mighty challenges to improve policy in our state, but it’s been a great experience," he said. "I think we’ve been able to advocate for some good stuff and actually move the needle some on a few things."

Dudley is leaving the state House with his eye on another public office, the Group 8 Pinellas County judgeship.

Two candidates, Dora Komninos and Curtis "CK" Korsko, are already filed for the seat.

“It’s not decided, I’m thinking about that,” Dudley said. “I’m leaning in favor of doing that. I think I have a lot to offer in that regard. I treat people fairly, and I think it’s a worthwhile thing to be doing.”

Dudley, a practicing lawyer and former public defender, said he has experience in the courtroom, with more than 100 cases tried.

He’s also a former legislative aide and legislative analyst with 16 years in state jobs, including the Legislature. If he won a judgeship, his time on state payrolls would be combined with his judge’s salary to provide a substantial pension.

Shortly after Dudley's announcement, the Florida Democratic Party said that Ben Diamond, a St. Petersburg attorney and former general counsel to Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, will run for the seat. Diamond has the backing of party leaders, including former Gov. Charlie Crist and incoming House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, according to FDP's release.

"We have a lot of work to do," Diamond said in a statement. "We have to ensure that every child has access to a quality public education, regardless of the neighborhood they grow up in. We have to increase funding to early learning programs to give our children a head start on success."

Last week, a Republican opponent emerged in Dudley's House re-election campaign.

Dudley was first elected to the House in 2012. He has been an outspoken advocate in the Legislature for reforms to Citizens Property Insurance, Public Service Commission and in criminal justice.

[Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2016 5:45pm]


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