Carey Baker explores legal options to disqualify opponent after ‘deceptive’ qualification
Carey Baker. Image via Baker campaign.

Carey Baker
Mark Jordan qualified to challenge the Property Appraiser after the incumbent filed as a write-in.

A last-minute challenge to Lake County Property Appraiser Carey Baker left the constitutional officer feeling betrayed. It also puts him at greater political risk than he has found himself in more than a decade, heading into an election where only Republican Mark Jordan’s name will appear on the ballot.

Baker has rallied Republican leaders in Lake County around what may be a write-in campaign defending his job. Republican Party of Lake County Chair Anthony Sabatini has called for Jordan to be expelled from the party, accusing him of using dirty tricks to get on the ballot.

“The whole community is furious about this,” Baker said. “I hope Mark does the right and honorable thing and withdraws.”

Baker, a former state lawmaker, waited until the last minute to qualify for re-election and faced no opposition. Expecting none, he qualified as a write-in candidate, which requires no qualification fee.

But, as he walked out of the office, Mark Jordan — brother to Lake County Tax Collector David Jordan and a member of the local Hospital Board — filed as a Republican candidate. That makes Mark Jordan the only candidate who qualified to have their name on the ballot, and it also makes Jordan the official Republican nominee.

“My friend committed the worst act of personal betrayal I have ever experienced,” Baker said.

He made clear that friend, now a former one, was David Jordan, a fellow constitutional officer Baker has worked closely with for a decade.

Neither David nor Mark Jordan could be reached for comment. Baker said he had previously told David Jordan he planned to file as a write-in, as he had done in 2020.

Over the weekend, Baker’s allies rallied around him. U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster was spotted waving signs with Baker this weekend, the incumbents carrying placards that respectively supported one another.

Sabatini, who until last week was challenging Webster in a GOP Primary, issued an open letter calling for party members to censure Mark Jordan. Sabatini also wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove Mark Jordan from his Hospital Board office.

“We also call on ALL elected Republican officeholders to speak out and post publicly their denouncement of this immoral act,” he said.

Sabatini also called for a criminal investigation, though it’s not clear that any laws were violated. Baker’s own attorneys are exploring if the processing of paperwork after noon is grounds to disqualify Mark Jordan’s candidacy.

Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays said, to his knowledge, Mark Jordan didn’t violate the law by filing last-minute against Baker.

The Republican Elections Supervisor, who served in the Legislature as well and succeeded Baker in both his House and Senate seats, said he spoke to the Division of Elections ahead of the qualification deadline to get clarity about whether anyone in line at his office before noon would be allowed to qualify.

He has staff right now running a timeline, based on sworn documents signed in the office on June 14 between 11:30 a.m. and the noon deadline to qualify, that should verify whether all candidates were in the office in a timely fashion. That includes David and Mark Jordan, as well as Baker, who was the first of the three to leave based on a speaking engagement outside the office.

Baker said he sat in the Tavares elections office with paperwork both to qualify as a write-in or the traditional way. He was in line when the doors closed for prospective candidates. At that point, few were in the room, but both David and Mark Jordan were among them.

Baker thought that everyone was an ally and had a good reason to be there. David Jordan qualified for another term as Tax Collector running unopposed (and notably paying his $10,685 qualifying fee).

Presuming nobody in the room would challenge him, Baker put in his paperwork as a write-in, expecting to win election unopposed and avoiding a five-figure fee himself. He planned to return donations to supporters. But when Baker left the office, Mark Jordan filed for the position.

“This could not have happened to me any other way except if it was done by a friend,” Baker said. “If it was a room full of strangers, I would have paid the qualification fee.”

Hays didn’t handle the papers himself, but said his staff must remain politically neutral in handling paperwork regardless.

“The fact is, Carey came in, filed his write-in papers, and the Jordans knew he had done that, came in behind him and qualified against him,” Hays said.

“To my knowledge everything done was legal,” Hays added. “I’m not aware of any statutes violated by these actions, and that to me is what I have to go by. Unfortunately, the moral code doesn’t seem to come into play sometimes.”

Hays informed Baker of what occurred after learning about it from his staff, but at that point the qualification deadline had passed.

“Should the current Property Appraiser Carey Baker have just paid the bill? Yeah, ask my wife about that,” Baker said. “I should have just wrote the stinking check.”

When Baker first learned of the developments, he believed Mark Jordan’s candidacy doomed his own. Jordan automatically wins the Republican Primary. And in November when voters cast ballots in the Presidential Election, Jordan’s name will appear with the party designation against a blank write-in line.

But Baker said the outrage in the community since the qualification deadline gives him confidence that he could win a write-in campaign if necessary.

Hays notes that state law requires the counting of write-in votes for qualified candidates even if voters fail to fill in the appropriate bubble on a ballot, and even if they only write a candidate’s last name or if they misspell a first name.

But Baker said regardless of how the election unfolds, he believes the Jordans’ reputation in the community is at greater risk than his own. He expects DeSantis will explore removing Mark Jordan from his current position, one the Governor appointed him to hold, and that Lake County voters don’t deserve an officeholder who gained power through a dirty trick.

“The bottom line is, should the people of Lake County have a Property Appraiser who obtained office in such a deceptive, immoral and unethical manner?” Baker said. “The answer is no.”

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].


  • Ocean Joe

    June 17, 2024 at 1:07 pm

    Dont be cheap next time. Pay the filing fee.

  • Jennifer Murray

    June 17, 2024 at 7:51 pm

    As a “friend” seems like a crappy move, but it doesn’t seem as though anything inappropriate occurred. The whole thing could have been avoided by simply paying the required filing fee. Sounds like he gambled and lost.

  • FloridaPatriot

    June 18, 2024 at 7:13 am

    I see nothing wrong. He was outplayed and is throwing a tantrum. You should have paid the fee and put your name in the race. You never know who might decide to run.

  • James Madison

    June 19, 2024 at 3:47 pm

    The great game player got out played and he’s getting his toadie Sabatini to boot the Jordans out of the party. Even though Sabatini filed last minute (after his messiah endorsed Webster) against incumbent Republican Doug Shields for the County Commission. I bet Shields didn’t think Anthony would run against him. Is Little Antony now going to call Shields a RINO and all those other little pet names to win the election?

  • Phil Morton

    June 25, 2024 at 4:00 pm

    This is one of the funniest things I’ve read all day.

Comments are closed.


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