Updated: Lawsuit seeks to boot Dingfelder from county commission race
A lawsuit filed today aims to get Democrat John Dingfelder out of the District 1 Hillsborough County Comission race. The complaint, filed by Brian Lothrop, a Republican who lives in District 1, claims that because Dingfelder missed the deadline to file his resign-to-run papers, he should never have been qualified for the ballot. Dingfelder withdrew from the race on June 29, and the next day the Hillsborough County Democratic Party put him back on the ballot, citing a state law that allows a party left without a nominee because a candidate has been removed from the ballot to appoint a replacement. But the lawsuit, which names Dingfelder, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard, interim Secretary of State Dawn Roberts and the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee, says that because Dingfelder never propely qualified for the ballot, the DEC had no legal right to name a replacement. "His name cannot be on there, nor can a substitute be on there," said Terri Gaffney, an attorney represnting Lothrop. If Dingfelder survives the challenge, he'll face the winner of the Republican primary, which pits Sandy Murman against Trey Rustmann. If the court determines Dingfelder never properly qualified, it's possible the primary on Aug. 24 will be open to all voters, including Democrats and those with no party affiliation. Read more about it here.
Update: Dingfelder offered this response to the lawsuit: "This is exactly what people hate about partisan politics. This lawsuit is just a smokescreen to divert people’s attention from the issues that people really care about, like jobs, our local economy, transportation and quality of life. .... I will respectfully let the attorneys hash this out. In the meantime we are going to continue working hard and in November the voters can decide."
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer