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Sen. Mike Bennett running for Manatee supervisor of elections

MANATEE -- State Sen. Mike Bennett, who is retiring from the Florida Senate due to term limits, today filed to run for the post of Manatee County supervisor of elections.

Bennett, 67, a real estate investor, filed as a Republican candidate in the crowded race. He is currently serving as Florida Senate president pro tempore. Bennett held a seat in the state House of Representatives two years, and has served 10 years in the state Senate, he said.

"I believe we can continue the, if you would, 'the Bob Sweat tradition' of not having some of the convoluted elections we've had across the state," Bennett said. "Bob has done a fantastic job."

Current Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat announced last month he would retire after the elections this year. When he steps down, he will have served 28 years. His long-time assistant, Nancy Bignell, said she planned to retire as well.

Bennett said he asked himself what opportunities were out there, and how best he could serve the people of Manatee County and the state of Florida. Last year, he briefly was a candidate for the Congressional seat now held by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

"I enjoy public policy and enjoy serving the community, people have been very, very good to me, and I want to continue that tradition," he said.

Bennett joins six other candidates -- five Republicans and one Democrat -- who have already filed for the race.

Richard Bedford, a member of the Manatee planning commission, also filed on Friday. He is a Republican.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031.