Court date set to determine if Jerry Torres should be disqualified in CD 14

Jerry Torres
The battle over who is qualified continues.

A Florida Democratic Party lawsuit seeking to disqualify Republican congressional candidate Jerry Torres will proceed this month. A judge set a trial date for July 18, with all parties required to provide evidence in the next week.

That’s a short timeframe, but courts must determine soon if Torres will be eligible for the Aug. 23 GOP Primary in Florida’s 14th Congressional District.

The parties in the lawsuit appeared Friday in front of a Leon County Circuit Judge and agreed to the in-person final hearing.

Former state Rep. Sean Shaw, Hillsborough Republican Thomas Hodges and the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit alleging Torres illegally had a qualification form notarized remotely by a Mississippi-certified notary while Torres was in Africa.

Mark Herron, a Florida Democratic Party attorney, said he will subpoena Torres’ passport and plans to depose three professional notaries who OK’d forms at various times for the candidate.

Torres did not appear at the Friday hearing. Attorney Charles Kelley confirmed Torres, who founded international consulting firm Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, remained out of the country.

Judge John Cooper denied a request to allow Torres to appear at his hearing by Zoom if he embarked on further travel abroad. But documents left open the possibility that witnesses could video-conference remotely if necessary.

The Torres campaign declined to comment on pending litigation. Sources close to Torres say he remains confident he will prevail.

Torres originally filed for Congress this year for an open seat in Florida’s 15th Congressional District but shifted to instead try and unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.

First, he faces Republicans James Judge and Sam Nashagh in August for the party nomination.

Judge weighed in on the lawsuit, and said if Torres did anything wrong he should drop out of the race.

“The evidence is certainly pretty convincing that someone with Mr. Torres’ campaign did something they should not have and potentially committed a crime,” Judge said. “If this is not the case, I encourage Jerry to fight these claims until the end. However, if there’s any merit to these claims, he needs to step out of the race. Attempting to disrupt the electoral process through fraud should be immediate grounds for disqualification and someone should go to jail.”

Of note, Judge continues to fight for his own position in the race. The Division of Elections initially disqualified the Republican for signing a local partisan candidate oath instead of the form for federal candidates. Since then, Judge appealed the decision and a circuit court judge restored his name to the ballot until that dispute can be resolved.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


One comment

  • YYep

    July 3, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    Was the notary legit never know.

Comments are closed.


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