Ellyn Bogdanoff announces bid to return to state Senate

Former Republican state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff announced Wednesday that she is ready for a rematch against Sen. Maria Sachs in the Democrat-leaning district that straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties.

In a note to her followers, Bogdanoff said she expects the match-up will be hard work, but wants “the opportunity to serve our community.”

Sachs defeated Bogdanoff by five percentage points in one of the most bitterly fought and expensive legislative campaigns of the 2012 election.

This year, Bogdanoff was heavily recruited to run by Sen. Jack Latvala. He is counting on her support to help him become Senate president in 2016.

Latvala, R-Clearwater, and state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, are in a tight contest for the Senate leadership position. Bogdanoff has pledged to support Latvala and in return be rewarded with a high-profile post.

Latvala also got into a political fight with Sachs over her residency as a state lawmaker. He accused Sachs of living outside her state Senate district. Sachs owns a home in Boca Raton and rents in Delray Beach.

Before she faces off against Sachs, Bogdanoff may have a Republican primary challenger. Joseph Bensmihen of Boca Raton, a wealthy owner of a home health company, is rumored to be ready to run in the GOP primary.

The race already promises to be divisive. Sachs was a prime sponsor of legislation to report greyhound injuries at racetracks. On Wednesday, the Florida Greyhound Association alerted its members by urging them to contribute to Bogdanoff’s campaign.

In an interview Wednesday, Bogdanoff said she would focus on jobs, the economy, children’s issues and criminal-justice reform. Asked about her potential primary opponent, Bogdanoff said that Bensmihen had financially supported and volunteered for her in the past.

“I’m running against Maria Sachs,” she said.

Bogdanoff said the race would be different this time because it is not a presidential election year.

“I won’t have Obama on the top of the ticket,” she said. “You can’t compare a presidential election race to an off-year race in terms of trying to overcome a national election and all the noise that is being made. . . . It was a banner year — a Democratic sweep. Everybody saw that.”

Bogdanoff would not cite a specific fundraising goal or estimate what the race would cost, but predicted it would be less than two years ago because voter turnout will be lower.

Sachs has already raised $193,000 for her 2014 race, according to campaign-finance reports, and has spent about $24,000.

Miami Herald Staff Writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.