A large field of gay candidates qualified to run for elected office last week in the State of Florida.

David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) led the way, seeking re-election to his House seat in district 113. Richardson, a certified public accountant, is the Democrats’ floor leader in Tallahassee. He faces one challenger, Rey Valdes of Coral Gables, in the Aug. 30 primary election. Republican Jonathan H. Parker of Miami Beach awaits the winner in November’s general election.

Meanwhile, in Orlando, Carlos Guillermo Smith took the Democratic Party’s nomination in district 49. Guillermo Smith, a gay Latino feminist, faces a no party affiliated candidate in the general election.

Closer to home, Wilton Manors attorney Ken Keechl qualified for the state house seat in district 93. Keechl, a former Broward County Mayor, faces Florida Atlantic University student Doug Oberman, 22, in the Democratic primary election. The winner moves on to battle sitting representative George Moraitis (R-Fort Lauderdale), a decorated Naval seaman, in the general election.

Keechl contends Moraitis is a “homophobe.” The coastal district stretches from Boca Raton to Hollywood.

In district 92, Paulette V. Armstead against four other Democrats. This district covers Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Oakland Park and northern Fort Lauderdale. Armstead, a lesbian, holds the distinction of being the first black female hired by the St. Petersburg Police Department. This is her first campaign for public office.

On the Senate side, in a battle of the gays, two gay men – former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora and ex-North Miami Beach Mayor Kevin Burns -- qualified for the open seat in district 38. See page 15 for more on that race.