Replacement process in Dorothy Hukill's Senate race looms - Florida Politics

Replacement process in Dorothy Hukill’s Senate race looms

As the community mourns the death of state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, the daunting task of naming a replacement nominee still lays ahead.

Mike Thomas, Republican state committeeman for Brevard County, says numerous applications have already come in to replace Hukill as the GOP nominee in Senate District 14.

“The names are still coming in and it would not be appropriate to render a partial listing,” he said.

The Port Orange community today pays their respects to Hukill, who died Oct. 2 days after announced she could no longer campaign.

But there will be just a seven-day window in which Republicans can choose and submit a replacement nominee to run against Democrat Mel Martin.

Ballots have already been printed, and will have Hukill’s name listed as the Republican nominee, but once a replacement nominee gets selected, election officials will send letters with vote-by-mail ballots and post notices in polling locations explaining all votes for Hukill will count toward the replacement.

The decision on a nominee falls on six people—the county chairs, state committeemen and state committeewomen for Brevard and Volusia counties. District 14 spans part of both counties.

In Brevard, that’s Rick Lacey, Thomas and Cheryl Lankes. In Volusia, that’s Tony Ledbetter, Paul Deering and Dana Dougherty.

But Evan Power, chairman of the Leon County Republican Party, explains that because more Volusia represents a larger part of the district, those three votes will be weighted more. Theoretically, if the counties deadlock, the three Volusia officials would get their preference.

Ledbetter delined to discuss the selection process now, and asked his Volusia colleagues to do the same.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports a list of candidates who have expressed interest: Titusville City Councilman Matt Barringer; DeBary City Councilwoman Erika Benfield; former Deltona City Commissioner Zenaida Denizac; Marilyn Ford of Port Orange, retired director of corrections for Volusia County; state Rep. Tom Goodson of Merritt Island; former Florida House District 52 candidates Brian Hodgers and Monique Miller; Cindy Roberts, a Brevard precinct committeewoman; Melbourne City Councilman Tim Thomas; and Cindy Thompson of Mims.

However, state law could stomp on some ambitions. A statute prevents anyone who already qualified for a separate election earlier this year from being selected as the replacement.

Notably, two Democrats looking to become replacement nominees in Florida’s 17th Congressional District earlier this month challenged that law in federal court and lost.

Part of that case challenged whether state law could regulate a choice in a federal election, not a concern with the state Senate race, but that likely means anyone who lost a primary for a different office won’t qualify as a replacement nominee.

 

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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