Appeals court denies review of HD 64 write-in candidate case

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An appellate court refused to reconsider its decision to allow a write-in candidate on the ballot in Tampa-area House District 64.

As reported by James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune, the request this week was for the entire 15- judge panel of the First District Court of Appeals to rehear the case, according to docket filings on Friday.

The three-judge appeals court panel reinstated write-in candidate Daniel Matthews last month after a lower court excluded him from the ballot.

The ruling opened the door for a probable special election.

Lawsuits invalidated both the August primary and November election for the seat, currently held by Republican Jamie Grant. House District 64 covers parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough County.

Tuesday’s election – non-binding and without Matthews – had Grant defeating Republican candidate Miriam Steinberg, 59.5 to 40.5 percent. The race failed to attract a Democrat.

Tampa attorney Michael Steinberg, the original plaintiff, is the husband of candidate Steinberg. His suit attempted to have Matthews kept off the ballot, arguing that he did not live in the district when filing to run.

Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey of Tallahassee disqualified Matthews, but appellate judges, holding that a candidate only needs to live in the district when elected, overturned the decision.

The case returned to Dempsey, who must “address the issues of any necessary special elections,” Roscia writes, including new ballots with both Grant’s and Steinberg’s names, as well as a line for Matthews’ name.

No date for a hearing is set, so the timing of a special election is unknown.

When a timetable is set, first will be a GOP primary between Grant and Steinberg, then a special general election between the primary winner and Matthews.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.