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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Updated: Second lawsuit seeks to knock Democrat off Hillsborough ballot

Hillsborough County Republicans on Friday filed a lawsuit aimed at getting Democrat Linda Saul-Sena removed from her county commission race.

Benton R. Murphey, a Republican who lives in Tampa, is the plaintiff in the suit that names Saul-Sena and Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard as defendants. Saul-Sena is running for the countywide District 5 seat against Republican incumbent Ken Hagan and Jim Hosler, who is running with no party affiliation.

The complaint claims that because Saul-Sena missed a deadline for filing paperwork with the Supervisor of Elections indicating she planned to resign her Tampa City Council post to run for the commission, she should not appear on the ticket. Lennard qualified her for the ballot on June 18. Read more about it here.

Saul-Sena's compaign so far has offered no formal comment, saying they haven't seen the court documents yet. But just hours after the lawsuit was filed, her campaign sent a news release announcing the results of a poll that show Saul-Sena and Hagan are neck-and-neck in a survey of 400 likely voters. See the partial poll results here.

Update: Anthony Pedicini, a spokesman for Hagan's campaign, called the release of the poll an "outrageous act from a desperate campaign. They have released no poll, no cross tabs, no questions or demographic information. It's an amateur act and a flailing attempt to create a sense of nonexistent momentum in light of the recent inability to properly qualify for the ballot and devastating hits to Linda's already limited credibility. It's really sad."

Update: In a prepared statement, Saul-Sena described the lawsuit as partisan politics and said that the legal maneuver is being “supported and orchestrated” by Hagan. “My opponent will do anything he can to not have to deal with the real issues in our community such as the high county-wide unemployment rate, uncontrolled growth and fiscal irresponsibility all that have occurred under his watch,” she said. “Hopefully Mr. Hagan has the courage to denounce this ugly action and insist on letting the voters decide who will lead them in the County Commission. As of right now it appears he is more interested in hiding behind his attorneys and letting his Party try to determine what is best for Hillsborough County.”

Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:40pm]


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