Florida Democrats want injunction to move forward special election dates

courts 04.08

The Florida Democratic Party has filed a motion seeking to force earlier elections for the South Florida legislative seats recently resigned by Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens and Coral Gables Democrat Daisy Baez.

The motion, filed in Leon County circuit court, requests an injunction to set the election dates for both seats earlier so new lawmakers can be in place for the start of the 2018 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 9.

Gov. Rick Scott two weeks ago ordered the special primary election to replace Clemens in SD 31 for Jan. 30, with a special general election to follow on April 10. Last week Scott set the HD 114 special primary for Feb. 20, with the general election to follow on May 1.

The HD 114 date was set at a later date due to the request of Dade Supervisor of Elections Christina White, who said in an email that accompanied the executive order that due to a Jan. 23 election in the county, a Feb. 20 special primary election would be “in the best interest of voters.”

The injunction, filed Monday, is part of a lawsuit Democrats filed a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court before dates were set for either election asking a judge to force Scott to set special-election dates.

Clemens left the Senate on Oct. 27 after acknowledging an affair with a lobbyist, while Baez resigned from the House at the beginning of November after agreeing to plead guilty to perjury in a case related to her legal residency.

The two South Florida districts are not the only ones expected to go without representation in the 2018 Legislative Session.

Republican Rep. Neil Combee’s exit from HD 39, effective Nov. 24, will likely leave that seat unfilled for the 60-day session, while the abrupt exit of freshman Rep. Alex Miller two months ago will leave HD 72 unfilled until after a Feb. 13 special general election.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.



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