Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Politics

With Democrat's exit, Republicans alone will pick District 17 senator

TAMPA — Registered Republicans alone will pick the successor for Jim Norman's old state Senate seat representing parts of northwest Hillsborough and central and eastern Pasco counties.

Local Democrats failed to field a candidate to replace Wes Johnson, the Democrat who dropped out of the election Aug. 1 for undisclosed personal reasons — after early voting had begun. The deadline to name a replacement was Thursday.

Division of Elections officials have decided to keep the Senate District 17 Republican primary closed, which means the winner of that three-way race — political newcomer John Korsak, state Rep. John Legg and former state Rep. Rob Wallace — will automatically be the new senator, according to an email that division chief Kristi Reid Bronson sent Thursday to Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.

"Many ballots have already been cast in this contest through absentee and early voting. The Florida Election Code does not require or authorize these validly-cast votes to be disregarded under these circumstances," Bronson wrote. "The Division of Elections does not intend to amend the ballot certification for this race."

One scenario earlier described by state officials to local party leaders and Korsak had been to move the race to the general ballot in November, opening it to Democrats and independents.

That possibility raised all kinds of questions, including what to do with the absentee ballots and early votes already cast by registered Republicans.

Hillsborough Democratic chairman Chris Mitchell, who confirmed Wednesday the details of that scenario, did not return a phone call Thursday evening seeking comment.

He earlier had said that opening the race to Democrats and independent voters would have been the fairest way to handle the situation. He said he thought it would have forced all three Republicans to move toward the middle on various issues.

Bronson did not address that scenario in her email but noted that state law does not address the unusual circumstance: What to do when a candidate withdraws after voting has begun and the party can't find a replacement.

The Department of State, which includes the elections division, has the authority to decide how to proceed.

Korsak said Wednesday that he would support a move by the state to open the Republican primary. On Thursday, he issued a news release changing his view.

"Had the Democrats never fielded a candidate, then all registered voters in District 17 would have had the opportunity to cast a vote in this primary," Korsak said. "However, losing their only candidate well after qualifying, and in the middle of the primary, does not make this a problem that needs to be resolved by Republicans."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.

Comments
Romano: A Tampa Bay

Romano: A Tampa Bay "superstaríí caught in the crosshairs of Trumpís border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bayís most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trumpís border...
Updated: 12 hours ago
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Published: 06/17/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Perenich to ĎWalk the DistrictíStephen Perenich, Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Florida District 12, will be "Walking the District" June 25-29. Perenich will be walking 55 miles in five days, starting in Dade City and heading...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18
GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administrationís aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its "zero tol...
Published: 06/14/18
Sarah Sanders and  Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Sarah Sanders and Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Press secretary Sarah Sanders and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah are considering stepping down, according to a CBS report. Sanders promptly responded in a Tweet saying, "I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS." Does @CBSNews k...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

WASHINGTON ó The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signaled that it may step up its pace of rate increases because of solid economic growth and rising inflation. The Fed now foresees four rate hi...
Published: 06/13/18
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister hits $1 million mark in first bid for election

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister hits $1 million mark in first bid for election

TAMPA ó Law enforcement officers never want to be outgunned. Neither do political candidates.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister need not worry.The Republican candidate has amassed what appears to be a record-sized war chest of just more than $1 mil...
Published: 06/12/18
Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

So the Supreme Court is in favor of voter suppression.Or is it election integrity?I suppose your interpretation depends on your party affiliation.Liberals seem convinced that an Ohio voting law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday is a devious plot ...
Published: 06/12/18
Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

So the Supreme Court is in favor of voter suppression.Or is it election integrity?I suppose your interpretation depends on your party affiliation.Liberals seem convinced that an Ohio voting law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday is a devious plot ...
Published: 06/12/18