MANATEE -- Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, officially filed this week to run for the 11th Congressional District seat held by Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor, according to the Florida Election Commission website.
Bennett, president pro tempore of the Florida Senate, has been candid in recent months about the possibility he would seek a congressional seat.
“I’m going to do it,” he told the Herald earlier this month. “My wife Dee and I have been discussing it for a long time. I have had a lot of people approach me and wanted me to run.”
Bennett lives in southern Manatee in the 13th Congressional District, represented by fellow Republican Vern Buchanan.
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With the upcoming redistricting mandated after the 2010 Census, Bennett said he believes the 11th District, which includes portions of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties, will be redrawn to include more of Manatee.
But even if the redistricting doesn’t extend into southern Manatee, Bennett said he will run.
“My wife and I are willing to move if we have to do that,” he said.
Technically, however, Bennett would not have to live within the district to run for the seat. The only residency requirement in the U.S. Constitution for U.S. senators or U.S. representatives is that they be a resident of the state when elected, and a U.S. resident for seven years.
Kathy Castor won election to the District 11 seat in 2006, and has been handily re-elected twice.
Bennett was elected to the Florida House in 2000, and two years later won election to the Florida Senate. He has been re-elected twice since and is now term limited in the Florida Senate.
A native of Brainerd, Minn., Bennett has lived in Florida since 1955. He is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War and graduate of Drake University.
He is an electrical contractor and a businessman. Among his holdings are Linger Lodge and the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex.