Gov. Rick Scott has set a Jan. 30 primary and April 10 general election to replace former state Sen. Jeff Clemens, the Palm Beach County Democrat who resigned Oct. 27 after admitting to an affair with a lobbyist.
The Florida Legislature’s regular 2018 session runs from Jan. 9 to March 9, so voters in Clemens’ former Senate District 31 could go through the session without representation in the Senate.
The election dates were suggested by Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, who took into consideration requirements such as a state law that mandates at least 45 days before an election to mail ballots to military personnel and overseas voters.
Bucher also wanted to give her office breathing room to administer the March 13 municipal elections.
District 31 runs generally east of Florida’s Turnpike from Lake Worth to Delray Beach. Democrats hold a 46.6-to-24.1 percent registration advantage over Republicans in the district, and the GOP didn’t field a candidate there in the 2016 general election.
With the District 31 seat vacant, Republicans hold a 24-15 advantage in the Senate. Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel this past week urged Scott to “immediately” schedule a special election for the district, though Bittel did not suggest any specific dates.