Former longtime Pinellas County Sheriff Everett Rice was once quoted as calling his chief deputy, Jim Coats, his "heir apparent." Running for his first term as sheriff after Rice left the office in 2004, Coats called Rice his mentor. Now, the two may be running against each other when the office comes up for election in 2012. On Thursday Rice, 66, a lawyer, announced he intends to run for sheriff again next year. Coats, who won a successful bid for re-election in 2008, said Thursday he has not yet decided if he'll run in 2012 but expects to finalize a decision within the next week or so. Rice and Coats both said they had not spoken to each other about their plans for 2012.
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Shootings send 2 men to hospital
Authorities were investigating the shootings of two men Thursday night. Deputies found the men with gunshot wounds around 9:30 p.m. after a 911 caller reported shots fired on Valencia Drive near County Road 579, said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Larry McKinnon. They were taken to Tampa General Hospital, he said. Their names and medical conditions were not immediately available. The shooting did not appear to be random, according to McKinnon.