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2020

Yukong Zhao gets final approval for CD 7 Republican primary ballot

The ruling cements a 3-way GOP contest with Richard Goble and Leo Valentín.

On the eve of Friday’s qualifying deadline for state and most local elections, Republican congressional candidate Yukong Zhao received a judge’s final approval as a qualified candidate in the federal election, striking Florida’s ruling against him.

Zhao sued the Florida Department of State to get on the ballot after it deemed on April 25 that he failed to qualify for for the August 18 Republican primary for Floria’s 7th Congressional District in Central Florida.

The department’s Division of Elections said Zhao had failed to file his paperwork in time. Zhao disputed that, and charged in his May 6 lawsuit that the division simply failed to check its mail that morning. He also contended that the department ignored its own coronavirus policy to allow for more flexibility for candidates.

On May 17 Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit issued a preliminary injunction to put him on the ballot. On Thursday Judge Ronald W. Flury issued a final judgement ordering Secretary of State Laurel Lee to qualify Zhao for the ballot, his campaign announced.

Zhao, an Orlando businessman, now will battle with Longwood financier Richard Goble and Orlando physician Leo Valentín in the August 18 Republican primary for CD 7.

The winner gets a November election date with two-term Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

CD 7 covers parts of central, northern, and eastern Orange County and all of Seminole County.

“I am very glad the court rightfully restored my candidacy,” Zhao said in a statement.

“We will resume our campaign at full-speed to let voters in 7th district know: When our nation confronts major and unprecedented challenges at home and threats abroad, the U.S. Congress needs a strong representative like me, who can use my decades of business leadership experience to help re-open our economy, who can use my international expertise and bilingual skills to help defend America from foreign threats, and who will fiercely defend freedom of speech, rule of law and funding of police departments, inspired by my personal suffering during China’s Cultural Revolution!” he continued.

Zhao is an immigrant from China who rose to prominence as an activist for Chinese-American rights, particularly through his high-profile legal challenge against admissions policies at Harvard University.

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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