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Opponent challenges Legg over residency in state Senate race

NEW PORT RICHEY — Rep. John Legg is once again facing questions over his residency, with his opponent calling for him to resign from his House seat over the matter.

Former state Rep. Rob Wallace, one of Legg's opponents for the state Senate District 17 seat in northwest Hillsborough and southern Pasco counties, says the state Constitution requires lawmakers to live in the districts they represent. When Legg filed his paperwork to run for the Senate seat, he listed a Trinity address that is outside his current House District 46.

"He's violating his oath to the residents of District 46," Wallace said, producing elections papers that show Legg listing a Palladio Drive address in Trinity — not the Port Richey home he's claimed as his residence for years. He called on Legg to "clear this matter up" and resign from the House.

Wallace made his comments at a candidates' forum Thursday night at Pasco-Hernando Community College, where he debated Legg and John Korsak, a Homeland Security consultant from Lutz.

Legg, who said nothing on stage, later called Wallace's accusations "completely inaccurate" and "ludicrous."

"My wife and I have two houses. One is in my current House District and the other is in the Senate District for which I am running," he said in a prepared statement. "I have begun preparations to be in the Senate District by Election Day as Florida Statutes require, and I have been advised by the House General Counsel that those preparations are fine and there is no obligation for me to resign."

Legg said Wallace raised the issue "because I guess he needs something to talk about other than job creation."

The Times reported in 2008 that Legg was splitting his time between those two homes. Legg said the four-bedroom Trinity home was owned by his wife, Suzanne, whom he married in 2007. He owns the two-bedroom home on Woodcrest Drive in Port Richey, in his House district.

Legg said at the time they were trying to sell both homes and move into a larger one that can accommodate a family of six within his district. (The family has since grown to seven with the birth of the couple's second child. His wife has three children from a previous marriage.)

Asked in 2008 how many days a week he spent at the Port Richey home, Legg said it was hard to say.

"I can't put a number on it," Legg said. "The Port Richey house is my residency. I split time between both of them. I wish it wasn't that way."

Legg is the frontrunner in the three-way Senate race and has drawn endorsements from key state leaders, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Wallace, an engineer who served in the House from 1994 to 2000, attacked the Senate leadership, which he called the "Senatocracy," for "anointing" Legg before the GOP primary. The victor will face Democrat Wes Johnson, a medical research scientist and professor at the University of South Florida.

"Elect me," Wallace said. "Sparks will fly."

Opponent challenges Legg over residency in state Senate race 07/20/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 21, 2012 12:09am]
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