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LaMarca tests the waters in Allen West's district

When Republican Congressman Allen West announced he was switching districts for the 2012 election and would endorse former Boca Raton state legislator Adam Hasner to run in his place, it appeared that the Republican powerbrokers had worked out a behind the scenes plan. The goal: coalesce around one GOPer while the Democrats duked it out in a crowded primary. And coalesce they did: West, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and former Gov. Jeb Bush all endorsed Hasner.

But Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca is exploring a bid anyway. Though Congressional District 22 in Broward/Palm Beach will steer far more to the left due to redistricting, LaMarca has proven he can appeal to the middle: in 2010 he ousted Democrat Ken Keechl in a swing district. He says he will make a decision by next Friday about whether to run.

Isn’t LaMarca, a former Broward County GOP chair, afraid that if he jumps in he will anger party leaders?

“I was a party leader. I don’t know that I was ever mad somebody got into a race. The people I would be most concerned with turning off would be voters,” said LaMarca, who is trying to test the support he could draw as a candidate from Broward.

LaMarca said he spoke with West before he endorsed Hasner: “He was clear he wanted to support one person and didn’t want a primary.”

And LaMarca notes one influential Republican from Broward hasn’t announced who he is backing yet: Former Congressman Clay Shaw who represented the district for more than two decades before Ron Klein ousted him in 2006 only to be ousted himself by West four years later.

LaMarca could be one of three Broward county commissioners to run. Kristin Jacobs, a Democrat, said she will run and John Rodstrom, a term-limited Democrat, is considering it. And as if that doesn’t create enough tension at County Hall, Commissioner Sue Gunzburger has endorsed Democrat Lois Frankel in that race -- the former West Palm Beach mayor and state legislator who has already raised more than $1.4 million.

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