TALLAHASSEE — A Tallahassee Circuit Court judge ruled against former state Sen. Nancy Argenziano on Thursday, saying the Department of State is not violating her rights by barring her from running for Congress as a Democrat.
Argenziano was a Republican until she registered as an Independent in June 2011, but she hoped to run for the 2nd Congressional District as a Democrat. However, a 2011 state law prohibited her from changing her party affiliation within 365 days of the election qualifying period, which for congressional elections is June 4-8.
Circuit Judge James Shelfer said previous cases consistently upheld the constitutionality of such "disaffiliation requirements," some with loyalty periods even greater than Florida's current one-year window. Shelfer noted that Argenziano still has the right to run for Congress, either as a member of the Independent Party or with no party affiliation.
Argenziano said she isn't sure if she will appeal Thursday's ruling, especially with mounting legal costs. If she decides to let the ruling stand, she will likely run for the seat, which consists of 14 North Florida counties, as an Independent.
"I just don't like being forced by the state to have to pick a party (and) for them to tell me which party I should be able to run in," she said.