Republican congressional candidate James Judge was disqualified after filing the wrong paperwork with the Division of Elections.
But Judge said it was the state’s mistake that he was kicked off the ballot and that he will fight the decision.
“We tried to do everything properly, and had our paperwork in first, well before the deadline, to ensure that if a mistake had been made, we would have time to fix it before the deadline,” Judge said. “Instead, the state signaled that I had completed the paperwork correctly by accepting and qualifying my candidacy.”
Political consultant Peter Graves said the campaign plans to appeal the state decision in court.
The Division determined Judge filed a partisan candidate oath as part of his qualifying paperwork on June 15, but used a state and local candidate form instead of one for candidates seeking federal office.
Judge’s campaign argues the state should not have accepted the paperwork, which was turned in more than 48 hours before the end of qualifying week, and should have allowed him the opportunity for a simple cure in filing a federal candidate oath.
Judge had filed to challenge U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, in Florida’s 14th Congressional District.
Flipping the Democrat-held district appeared to be an uphill battle after a new congressional map signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis shifted the district to cover downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg. About 58.8% of voters under the new lines supported Democrat Joe Biden in the last Presidential Election compared to 39.7% who voted for Republican Donald Trump.
Still, Judge had tallied some significant endorsements in the race, including that of former U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho. He also had the most cash raised among Republicans in the race as of the close of the first quarter in 2022. Having reported more than $122,000 in donations, he had almost $75,000 in cash on hand at the end of March.
The Coast Guard veteran had entered the race in January before new lines created a blue shift in the district make-up.
Judge’s ouster from the contest leaves Jerry Torres and Sam Nashagh vying for the GOP nomination. Castor also faces a Democratic primary challenge from Christopher Bradley.
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