Two months after Florida Politics revealed he was running illegally as a Democrat, it appears pilot Curtis Calabrese has officially withdrawn his bid to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch.
Calabrese this week filed a termination report with the Federal Election Commission for his principal campaign committee, Curtis Calabrese for Congress, effectively ending his run at federal office this year.
He did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The filing followed a report that Calabrese, a U.S. Navy air combat veteran and former Federal Aviation Administration inspector, would likely have to run as a no-party candidate because he had not been a registered Democrat in Florida long enough to run as one.
According to records from the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Calabrese has only been a Democrat in Florida since March 14, just over two weeks before he filed to run for federal office.
Before that, he was registered as a Republican.
Florida law requires candidates to be a registered member of their chosen political party at least 365 days before the beginning of the qualifying period of a General Election.
Calabrese qualified for that — but in California. He lived in Los Angeles for the last four years until March, he said, when he and his husband moved back to Boca Raton. A search of his voter registration on the Los Angeles County Clerk website shows he is indeed registered with the Democratic Party in California. His voter status there is listed as active.
Calabrese said he registered as a Republican in Florida in 2008 right before joining the military and moving out of state. His government work since has sent him to Maryland, Texas, Hawaii and California.
In 2008 and 2016, he cast absentee ballots in Florida’s General Elections. Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections office records show he voted in person during the 2018 General Election.
Calabrese claimed in April that staff from the Division of Elections had assured him that even though he had not been registered as a Democrat in Florida for the requisite yearlong period, his registration with the party in California satisfied that requirement.
“I was told it’s a federal Democratic Party, not a state thing,” he said.
By that time, however, he’d already signed an oath for state and local partisan office that included a clause in which candidates must attest they have been a member of their chosen party for 365 days along with their Florida voter registration number providing proof.
“He wasn’t registered as a Democrat consistent with what he had to swear to under oath when he qualified,” said Mark Herron, an election law lawyer with Tallahassee-based firm Messer Caparello. “So, it’s crystal clear he shouldn’t be able to qualify as a Democrat for this election.”
He may also have broken the law if he cast ballots in both California and Florida, said election and political activity lawyer Glenn Burhans Jr. of Stearns Weaver Miller.
“You can’t be registered to vote — and vote — in two separate states,” he said. “If his residence was truly in California and he was registered to vote there at the same time he was registered to, and voted, in Florida, that would be a violation of the law.”
Calabrese filed in early April to run in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, which Deutch represented until later that month, when state lawmakers approved redistricting by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Office.
Had he persisted and won, he would have been the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Florida.