Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Will mistake wipe two Democrats off the Tampa ballot? In the end, voters lose

What a tempest brewing over whether two Hillsborough commission candidates will get booted off the ballot. And what a shame for voters if it's for nothing more than a needlessly blown deadline.

Tampa City Council members John Dingfelder and Linda Saul-Sena, despite being seasoned politicians, missed the deadline to turn in letters saying when they would resign their city seats.

Both could have stayed on the council through the November election. But by law, they had to submit resignation letters at least 10 days before the election qualifying period, meaning June 4. Both submitted letters June 15.

And elections are built on rules. Just ask Polk County's Neil Combee, who didn't make the ballot for state House because his qualifying check was a penny less than it was supposed to be.

So maybe you're asking: What's with this 10-day stuff? Why can't candidates just submit all their papers during qualifying week?

Here's a great reason: So other potential candidates know well ahead of the qualifying deadline that a seat will be open. More fair, less potential for manipulation. Think U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite's announcement that she wouldn't run for re-election minutes after Hernando Sheriff Richard Nugent qualified just before deadline. It still leaves a bad taste.

The system weakens without rules, and it can't treat the candidate we like better than the one we think is a bozo. A few days past deadline is arguably no different from election eve. This is all true even if a part of us thinks: Let voters decide what to make of a candidate who doesn't make deadline.

The law also says any sitting politician running for another office who resigns effective immediately "may then qualify for office as a non-officeholder." Meaning: Once you're not in office, the rules about running as an officer don't apply to you. Dingfelder, and then Saul-Sena, abruptly quit the City Council. A bummer for constituents counting on them through November.

"Then" is an interesting word in that legalese. How do you qualify when the qualifying deadline has passed? Or did you technically already qualify?

Legal minds are ruminating. No doubt the question of whether they make the ballot will land in the hands of a judge. If Republicans take aim at the two Democrats, we should remember Democrats might do the same in similar circumstances, and with equal glee. This is the current state of our politics.

Saul-Sena and Dingfelder both will get justifiably pummeled for this mistake. But you had to respect Dingfelder's reaction: "It was my responsibility to know these things." The Saul-Sena camp, however, sent a laughable press release saying she was resigning "to focus solely on her campaign," breezily mentioning the law but not a peep about a blown deadline.

A 2008 case of a Florida House candidate removed from the ballot in Leon County after he failed to file a resignation letter in time will not likely help them.

But one small point for the keep-'em-on-the-ballot side: If the 10-day window is to give others time to consider the open seat, nobody got hurt here. Qualifying for city elections isn't until January.

But rules are rules, the same for you and for me and that bozo guy.

And what a shame, in the end, if it means less choice for voters.

Will mistake wipe two Democrats off the Tampa ballot? In the end, voters lose 06/24/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 24, 2010 7:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.