Do-over in the works for state Senate election?
The three Republicans running for state Senate District 17 could see their names moved to the November general election ballot open to Democratic and independent voters, according to a highly unusual scenario state officials have shared with local Democrats and one of the candidates.
The rare decision to open a previously closed party primary would be a consequence of the abrupt decision last week by the lone Democrat in the race, Wes Johnson, to abandon the election for "personal reasons."
Hillsborough and Pasco county Democrats have until today to find a replacement for Johnson on the ballot. That seems "unlikely," said Hillsborough County Democratic Party chairman Chris Mitchell.
If they do not? State law is unclear, except to say the Department of State has the authority to decide how to provide for "orderly" elections.
Mitchell said Division of Election attorneys have told party officials that moving the Republican primary to the general election ballot may be the most equitable way of treating all voters.
"Obviously, they don't want to disenfranchise all the (no-party) voters and Democrats," he said.
The three Republicans for the seat, which represents northwest Hillsborough and central and eastern Pasco, include political newcomer John Korsak, state Rep. John Legg and former state Rep. Rob Wallace. Sen. Jim Norman was the incumbent, but dropped out of the race.