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Local Dems (and friends) to vie for seat being vacated by Grayson

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Grayson's announcement that he's running for Senate means his seat in the 9th Congressional District is wide open, and local Democrats have wasted no time expressing their interest in succeeding him.

On July 9, Grayson made the announcement that he'd run for Senate. On July 13, just four days later, Susannah Randolph, Grayson's district director, announced that she plans to run for his seat. On July 16, state Sen. Darren Soto announced that he's also going to run. Both are well-liked local Dems, and they're friends (Randolph told the Sentinel, "I like Darren. We're friends. But I know I can do a better job"), and some locals are already taking sides.

Randolph is a staunch supporter of women's rights, and an invitation to an Aug. 12 fundraiser for her campaign lists among her host committee local attorney (and medical marijuana proponent) John Morgan, Equality Florida's statewide deputy director of development Michael Farmer, former Rollins College president Rita Bornstein and former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder.

Soto, who has more recently become known as a champion of environmental issues in the state Legislature, and he sponsored a bill last session that would ban fracking in the state. At his announcement, he had at his side Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton, state Democratic Party secretary Jimmy Auffant and former state Rep. Linda Stewart.

Two other Democratic candidates have also announced their intentions to run: former Osceola County Democratic chair Valleri Crabtree and former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel.

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