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2020

Yukong Zhao wins court ruling to get on ballot in CD 7

Court puts Zhao back on the ballot in dispute over Florida’s qualifying deadline.

Republican Yukong Zhao, disqualified from the ballot when the Florida Division of Elections said he missed the filing deadline last month, has won a court injunction to put his name on the ballot in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Zhao, an Orlando businessman and nationally-recognized Chinese-American civil rights activist, sued Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee in circuit court in Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit after he was disqualified from the ballot for the Republican nomination in CD 7.

Two Republicans did qualify: Longwood financier Richard Goble and Orlando radiologist Dr. Leo Valentin. The winner of the Aug. 18 Republican primary would take on two-term Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy in CD 7, which covers Seminole County and parts of northern and central Orange County.

Zhao’s suit contended that the Division of Elections had failed to follow its own emergency actions, in the coronavirus crisis, to ease ballot access rules so that candidates would not have to risk their own health. Zhao’s campaign maintained it mailed in his paperwork and that it arrived on time the morning of April 25, but that officials did not check the mail that morning before the 10:30 a.m. deadline.

According to Zhao’s campaign, the the court has preliminarily agreed with his complaint, granting Zhao a temporary injunction to restore his name to the ballot for the August 18, 2020 primary election.

Zhao will resume his campaign immediately, his campaign announced.

“The court ruling today recognizes that my campaign was wrongly hampered by bureaucratic red tape,” Zhao stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “Starting immediately, I am back on the campaign trail, where I will continue to advocate for the American Dream, defend the Constitution, and fight against the kind of red tape that was used to delay my appearing on the ballot. Our democracy will be strengthened when such red tape is eliminated!”

He and his legal team are pressing for a final judgment in his favor, expecting a ruling within weeks.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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