Republican congressional candidate Scotty Moore has been disqualified from the ballot in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, because his qualifying paperwork included the wrong form for a party oath.
Moore, a consultant and former Christian missionary from Orlando, says he intends to sue to get back on the ballot. Meantime, he said his campaign would carry forward.
Moore blamed his own staff, saying in a statement issued Sunday that “the Secretary (of State) now contends that my staff inadvertently filed a wrong form during the qualifying process.”
He criticized the Division of Elections for at first accepting the form and deeming him qualifying, but then changing that determination a week later. He said there was “nothing materially or substantially different” between the form he submitted and the form he was supposed to submit, and that “we believe that we fully and substantially complied.”
The issue hinged on the party statement he filled out, signed, had notarized, and submitted. It was the Republican Party oath for state or local candidates, instead of the required one for federal candidates.
Moore arguably was the leading Republican in the race, at least in terms of campaign fundraising and big-name endorsements.
He initially was listed June 17 as a qualified candidate. Then the Florida Division of Elections revised that listing, changing him to “Did Not Qualify” late last Friday.
His disqualification on Friday left the CD 9 Republican Primary Election field with Jose Castillo, Adianis Morales, and Sergio Ortiz. They’re all vying for a shot at three-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Darren Soto of Kissimmee.
The situation appears identical to that of Republican congressional candidate James Judge, who was disqualified from the ballot in Florida’s 14th Congressional District in Tampa for turning in the wrong loyalty oath form.
Moore’s paperwork was timestamped as received on Tuesday, June 14, three days before the June 17 deadline.
“It was brought to our attention by the State Division of Elections Office on Friday that the Secretary now contends that my staff inadvertently filed a wrong form durning the qualifying process,” read a statement from Moore issued Sunday by his campaign.
“We watched in person as division staff helped other candidates correct errors on wrongly filed documents. We answered questions, provided all paperwork, and were told that we had provided all necessary paperwork and documentation,” he said.
“I will be filing suit as I feel my due process has been violated. We feel certain once all the facts are made public and ascertained that we will still be a candidate for Congress,” he added.
Under redistricting, CD 9 now covers all of Osceola County and parts of southern Orange County. It appears to have a solid Democratic lean, based on the past couple of General Elections.
CD 9 has a very large — probably majority — Hispanic population, particularly Puerto Rican. Soto is Puerto Rican. Unless Moore wins his lawsuit and is reinstated to the ballot, voters in the area could have a Hispanic Republican congressional nominee for the first time.
The most recent federal campaign finance reports, available for activity through the end of March, showed Moore had raised $268,000 for his campaign fund. By then, Castillo had raised $71,000 and Ortiz about $8,000. Morales did not launch her campaign until April.