Tampa Democrat's lawsuit could disqualify State Rep. Dan Raulerson over filing error
State Rep. Dan Raulerson should have an easy path to victory. The Tampa Republican lives in a district that leans right and his Democrat opponent has raised less than $5,000.
But a state circuit court judge in Tallahassee could upend all of that following a hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Raulerson's opponent, Jose Vazquez Figueroa, filed a lawsuit last month alleging that Raulerson tampered with a notary's signature on an official filing required to run for office. Vazquez says that on Raulerson's personal financial disclosure -- called a Form 6 -- White-Out was used to change the date of the notary's signature.
State law doesn't allow that. It says that if changes have to be made to notarized documents, they must be struck out by drawing a line through them.
It's a technicality, but Vazquez, who does not have a lawyer, argues it makes Raulerson's candidacy illegitimate because all qualifying papers have to be correctly filled out and notarized for a candidate to run. He has asked Circuit Judge Charles Dodson to invalidate Raulerson's candidacy.
If Dodson rules as Vazquez hopes, it would make Vazquez a state representative by default because there is no other candidate filed in the race for House District 58, which encompasses much of northeastern Hillsborough County, including Plant City and Temple Terrace.
A hearing is at 2 p.m. Tuesday, but it is not certain when Dodson would rule. He's under the gun on time, though, as mail and early voting have both begun in Hillsborough County with the final day of the election on Nov. 8.
As well as Raulerson, the lawsuit names Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer, Secretary of State Ken Detzner and Kristy Reid Bronson, bureau chief of the records for the Florida Division of Elections.
Previously, Vazquez made headlines by filing as a 2008 write-in candidate for the Florida House from a prison cell. In 2012, he ran against Raulerson for the District 58 House seat and lost, 57 percent to 43 percent.