ST. PETERSBURG — Attorney Darryl Rouson came out the victor in the hotly contested District 55 primary last month, but the state House seat isn't his just yet.
Rouson will face off against Calvester Benjamin-Anderson in the April 15 special election, but his opponent's name won't appear on the ballot. As a write-in candidate, Benjamin-Anderson is urging voters to write "Cal" and cast their vote for her.
A former Democrat, Benjamin-Anderson became a Republican on March 26 to run for the seat, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. Rouson also switched parties recently. In January, he changed from Republican to Democrat.
Why is this special election necessary?
The District 55 seat was vacated in February when Rep. Frank Peterman was appointed secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.
What is a write-in candidate?
Unlike other candidates, write-in candidates are not required to pay a filing fee, election assessment or party assessment. Their names do not appear on the ballot. However, a space is provided for the candidate's name to be written on the general election ballot.
How did Rouson become the Democratic nominee in the special election?
Rouson, a member of the state's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, garnered almost half the vote in the district primary in March, defeating educator Charles McKenzie Jr. and St. Petersburg City Council member Earnest Williams.
Who can vote?
District 55, where nearly two-thirds of voters are Democrats, includes parts of four counties: Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota. Pinellas residents make up two-thirds of the district's 44,529 Democrats.
What's next after the election?
The winner will finish out Peterman's term before facing a regular election in the fall. McKenzie, who came in second place, has said he will run for the seat in November.
Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or [email protected]