TALLAHASSEE — Two Pinellas County candidates went to court Thursday seeking to gain ballot access they were denied because of missing signatures on their campaign papers.
Democrat Nina Hayden of St. Petersburg asked a state judge to put her on the Aug. 14 primary ballot as a candidate for the 13th Congressional District seat held by Republican C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores. Democrat Jessica Ehrlich had already qualified.
The state Division of Elections ruled that Hayden's qualifying form was incomplete because the notary public who notarized it, Jason Buckmelter, did not also sign it, even though his name and notary commission number are clearly legible.
Hayden's attorney, Daniel Brown of the Carlton Fields law firm, filed suit against Secretary of State Ken Detzner and Deborah Clark, the Pinellas elections supervisor. In court papers, Brown argues that Detzner "breached (his) duty" to accept Hayden's paperwork as complete.
The second lawsuit involves Mark Robert Moon of St. Petersburg, a Democratic candidate for state Senate District 22, whose paperwork also was rejected as deficient.
On a form designating himself as his campaign's deputy treasurer, Moon signed his name once, but the form requires two signatures.
Moon's lawsuit calls that an "oversight" and argues that he "has complied and/or substantially complied with all the requirements of law to qualify as a Democratic candidate for nomination."
Moon is represented by attorney Mark Herron, an election law expert, who said both candidates will have an uphill climb in reaching the ballot. "The Department of State wins most of these," Herron said.
Moon is seeking to run as a Democrat in a South Pinellas and South Tampa district that is competitive for candidates in both parties. The Republican candidates in Senate District 22 are Reps. Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe.
A spokesman for the Division of Elections, Chris Cate, said neither candidate's paperwork was "complete on its face" and "properly verified" as the law requires.
Steve Bousquet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 224-7263.