Florida Supreme Court refuses to hear HD 113 candidate’s qualification case

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Florida’s Supreme Court is declining to hear the case of Laura Rivero Levey, the Republican House candidate claiming the state improperly kept her from the November ballot.

Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida reports the Court’s move automatically re-elects Democrat Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach in the House District 113 race.

Friday, in a 5-2 decision, justices turned down Levey’s appeal, after she was unsuccessful in both Leon County circuit court and Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

On June 17, Levey gave a check for the qualifying fee to the Division of Elections, which was mistakenly dishonored by the bank holding her campaign account. Election officials did not learn of the returned check until after the qualifying period ended on June 20.

Although Levey presented a cashier’s check for the qualifying fee, along with a statement from the bank admitting to the error, but election officials refused to accept cashier’s check because the qualifying period had ended.

Levey’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to intervene, and declare her qualified for the general election ballot, pointing to prior rulings that “strongly favor” ballot access.

One brief filed last month says, “Against this backdrop of longstanding precedent, it is clear that Mrs. Levey should not have been disqualified,” Saunders writes.

Department of State attorneys countered that earlier cases do not apply to the same issues as Levey’s and there is “clear and unambiguous” language in state law regarding qualifying.

Saunders also notes that the brief, two-paragraph explanation of the Supreme Court decision did not indicate the reasons for the refusal.

Justices R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince, Charles Canady, Ricky Polston and James Perry made up the majority. Justice Barbara Pariente and Chief Justice Jorge Labarga suggested the court take up the matter.

If Levey was successful, it is unclear when a special election would have occurred in the race against Richardson, who remains unopposed for the seat. The general election is Tuesday.

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.