Collier election officials brace for litigation after Alfie Oakes disqualification

The Collier County GOP State Committeeman was disqualified for submitting the wrong form and failing to correct it on time.

Collier County election officials are bracing for a lawsuit after disqualifying Alfie Oakes as he sought re-election as a Republican State Committeeman.

One of the top political power brokers in Collier County, Oakes won election as State Committeeman in 2020, unseating Douglas Rankin. But the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office said Oakes tried to file for re-election and failed to do so properly.

“Pursuant to Florida Statute 99.061 the candidate qualifying documents that were received in the Supervisor of Elections office were not properly filed,” reads a letter the office sent to Oakes. “Therefore, you did not qualify for the Republican State Committeeman position.”

Oakes said he followed the law.

“The claim by Collier County Supervisor of Elections Melissa Blazier that I failed to properly file my re-election paperwork for Republican State Committeeman is a flat out lie,” he said in a statement. “This latest act of fraud by Melissa Blazier is nothing more than a baseless attempt to racketeer an election rather than allow the voters’ voices to be heard.”

But a look at his paperwork shows Oakes initially submitted the wrong documents to run for a State Committeeman position. The first page of the document he did submit left a field identifying what office was being sought blank, and the document was only required for seeking a countywide public office, not a State Committeeman position with a party.

Elections officials contacted Oakes and encouraged him to fill out the correct form, but he did not arrive at the Elections Office until 12:04 p.m. on June 14, four minutes after the qualification period closed. Paperwork provided by the Elections Office shows Oakes did not submit the proper form until 12:08 p.m.

Oakes said his forms were accepted and his political team believed there were no problems. He said he was informed at 11:50 a.m. that his documents “did not meet their standards.”

“Despite this being blatantly untrue, I returned to the SOE office to sign the documents they requested. I arrived at the SOE office at 12:03 PM, and all of the additional documents were accepted and processed by the SOE at 12:04 PM,” his statement reads.

“The fact is this: The qualifying documents I provided during the qualifying period more than met the standard laid out by the Florida Secretary of State as well as the Republican Party of Florida. Melissa Blazier is illegally using her position to circumvent the election process in favor of her campaign mega-donor, my opponent, Doug Rankin.”

Rankin did qualify as a GOP State Committeeman candidate. So did Frank Schwerin.

Rankin on Facebook alleged that Oakes had brought the disqualification on himself.

“That’s what he gets for leaving something to the last minute,” Rankin wrote.

Blazier declined to expound on why Oakes’ documents were rejected, pointing only to the letter sent to Oakes. She said her Office is anticipating litigation.

“I stand by Florida law, Florida statutes and the rules that accompany those laws and that’s the job,” Blazier said.

Adding political complications, Oakes, who has repeatedly called for election audits in Florida and elsewhere, told The Paradise Progressive last year he was considering running for Supervisor of Elections himself.

Blazier, who was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis as Elections Supervisor last year, faces two Republican Primary challengers: Tim Guerrette and Dave Schaffel.

Oakes is supporting Schaffel and said he always intended to provide full backing to the Republican. But he said the disqualification could be raised in negative ads against Blazier over the course of the campaign.

“I like Melissa Blazier but she’s a bureaucrat and part of the system,” he said. “Dave Schaffel is a cybersecurity expert and could be the best elections supervisor in the country.”

Of note, Guerrette actually has the fundraising advantage in the race, having reported more than $110,000 raised compared to almost $85,000 reported by Blazier and just over $17,000 collected by Schaffel.

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].


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