There were few surprises among the candidates for office as the qualifying period ended at noon Friday.
As expected, state Rep. Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican, seemed to walk into the new Senate District 15 that includes eastern Hernando County into portions of Spring Hill.
No one had filed by noon Friday to challenge Dockery, who chaired the House General Government Appropriations Committee during the last session. However, Gov. Jeb Bush extended the filing deadline to 5 p.m. today because a FedEx plane carrying documents for several candidates crashed and burned at the Tallahassee airport Friday afternoon.
The extension could affect all state races.
During the session, Dockery helped the city of Brooksville get funds for sewer improvements and also supported Hernando County's bid for grants to improve local parks. She has asked the Senate leadership for permission to open a satellite office here.
Dockery promised that Hernando County will not suffer because it lost its resident senator.
"They'll probably see more of me than they want to," said Dockery, who was on her way to a chili cookoff in Spring Hill. "I will give everybody my attention."
Her interest in environmental issues is strong, and Dockery has started lobbying incoming Senate President Jim King for the chairmanship of the Natural Resources Committee.
More locally, School Board Chairman John Druzbick once again won election without a challenge. Druzbick had no opponent for his District 3 seat four years ago, after defeating an incumbent in his first race.
"Obviously, it makes it a lot easier than to run a campaign," he said. "I'm glad to be on the board. I think we've accomplished a lot and we've got a long way to go."
Hernando County will be represented by two state Senate districts instead of one starting next year. Unlike District 15, there is competition for District 11, which includes western Hernando.
Current state Rep. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey will run against Dunedin City Council member Janet Henderson for the Republican nomination. The winner will face either former Pasco County Sheriff Lee Cannon or political newcomer Joseph "Steve" Mattingly of Spring Hill, who will compete for the Democratic nod.
State House District 44, which includes most of Hernando County and parts of Sumter and Pasco, lost one announced candidate.
Republican challenger William Crawford of Ridge Manor announced in May he would run against incumbent David Russell of Brooksville, but decided instead to drop out. Crawford explained that he had studied Russell's background more closely and determined Russell, who is seeking a third term, is a "great and well qualified candidate."
"There is no reason to run against him at this time," Crawford said.
Russell, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said he is glad to sit out the primary season, watching to see the Democrats battle for the right to face him in November.
"Certainly, I'll be out there working," Russell said. "Whoever wins that primary election had better be taking their vitamins."
Democrats in the District 44 race are retired U.S. Marine Maj. Bruce Donovan of Spring Hill and corrections supervisor Gregory Williams of Ridge Manor, who challenged Russell two years ago. Also in the race is Libertarian candidate Edward Pittman of New Port Richey, which is not part of the district.
State House District 43, which extends south into Brooksville from its Citrus County base, finds two Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian seeking to replace departing incumbent Nancy Argenziano, who is running for state Senate.
The Republican slate includes former Citrus County Sheriff Charles Dean of Inverness, retired FBI analyst Nancy Dunwoodie of Inverness and former Dunnellon City Council member Michael "Joey" White, now of Crystal River. The Democrats are James Carr of Crystal River and former Crystal River City Council member Alexander "Alex" Ilnyckyj.
Neil Polimeni of Homosassa, a senior corrections officer at the Hernando County Jail, is the Libertarian.
The School Board has two competitive races this fall.
The most crowded field is District 1, in which incumbent Robert Wiggins will face former board member Stephen Galaydick, retired New York educator Irvin Homer and former school district engineer Jim Polk. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will run in the November general election.
In District 5, incumbent Sandra Nicholson will run against Springstead High School teacher Alan Minthorn.
School Board races are nonpartisan. Candidates represent districts but are elected at-large.
Two County Commission seats also are open this year. Both positions are based in Spring Hill.
District 2 will have no primary election, with only one Democrat and one Republican qualifying for the ballot. Incumbent Democrat Nancy Robinson seeks a third full term, and Republican civic activist Rose Rocco hopes to unseat her.
District 4 incumbent Democrat Chris Kingsley faces no primary opposition in his pursuit of a second term. He will run against one of the three Republicans vying for their party's nod in September. The primary is a winner-take-all race, with the state Legislature having eliminated the October primary election this year.
The candidates are Bob Kanner, outgoing chairman of the Spring Hill Fire Rescue Commission; school teacher Robert Schenck III; and former County Commissioner Paul Sullivan, who lost his re-election bid in District 5 two years ago. Of the three, only Schenck currently lives in District 4.
State law requires that a County Commission candidate live in the district he or she will serve on general election day. Sullivan and Kanner have said they intend to meet the requirement.
County commissioners, like School Board members, represent districts but are elected at-large.
Only two candidates qualified to run for two Spring Hill Fire Rescue Commission seats. Incumbent Gene Panozzo and newcomer John Hamilton will start their terms in November, without standing for election. Two other candidates had announced they would run, but did not qualify for the ballot.
The Brooksville City Council will have three seats open in the fall. Qualifying for those races will not take place until the week of Aug. 26.
_ Staff writer Robert King contributed to this story. Information from Times files also was used for this report.
Candidates elected unopposed
State Senate District 15: Paula Dockery +
Hernando County School Board District 3: John Druzbick (i)
Spring Hill Fire Rescue Commission (2 seats): Darryl Hamilton, Fioravante "Gene" Panozzo (i)
District 5 Circuit Court judges: Don Briggs, Sandra Edwards-Stephens, Barbara Gurrola, Mark Hill, Ric Howard, T. Michael Johnson, Brian Lambert, Curtis Neal, Jack Singbush, Richard Singletary, Jack Springstead, Richard Tombrink Jr.
Candidates for Sept. 10 primary election
U.S. Congress District 5, Republicans: Ginny Brown-Waite, Donald Gessner
State Senate District 11, Republicans: Mike Fasano, Janet Henderson
State Senate District 11, Democrats: Lee Cannon, Steve Mattingly
State House District 43, Republicans: Charles Dean, Nancy Dunwoodie, Michael "Joey" White
State House District 43, Democrats: Jimmy Carr, Alexander Ilnyckyj
State House District 44, Democrats: Bruce Donovan, Gregory Williams
District 5 Circuit Court, Group 1, nonpartisan: Carven Angel (i), Michael Takac
Hernando County Commission District 4, Republicans: Robert Kanner, Robert Schenck III, Paul Sullivan
Hernando County School Board District 1, nonpartisan: Stephen Galaydick, Irvin Homer, James Polk, Robert Wiggins (i)
Hernando County School Board District 5, nonpartisan: Alan Minthorn, Sandra Nicholson (i)
Candidates for Nov. 5 general election
U.S. Congress District 5, Democrat: Karen Thurman (i)
U.S. Congress District 5, no party: Brian Moore, Jack Gargan +
U.S. Congress District 5, write-in: David Werder
State House District 43, Libertarian: Neil Polimeni
State House District 44, Republican: David Russell (i)
State House District 44, Libertarian: Edward Pittman
Hernando County Commission District 2, Republican: Rose Rocco
Hernando County Commission District 2, Democrat: Hannah "Nancy" Robinson (i)
Hernando County Commission District 4, Democrat: Christopher Kingsley (i)
Note: (i) indicates incumbent
+ Preliminary, pending a new qualifying deadline (today, 5 p.m.) imposed because of a plane crash in Tallahassee.
++ Nonpartisan candidates for Congress do not run in primaries.
Sources: Hernando County Supervisor of Elections, Florida Division of Elections