Democrat says she won Florida House seat after Jamie Grant’s resignation

Jessica Harrington says that because former Rep. Jamie Grant's June qualifying papers listed an address where he no longer lives, he was never legally qualified for the ballot and the GOP is out of luck in replacing him.
Former Rep. Jamie Grant.
Former Rep. Jamie Grant. [ Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Aug. 13, 2020|Updated Aug. 13, 2020

Jessica Harrington, Democratic candidate for the District 64 state House seat, said she intends to file a state Ethics Commission complaint against state Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, which she said could result in her being declared winner of the seat.

Harrington said Grant, who sold his Carrollwood home in September, didn’t file to run for the office with his residential address as the law requires and improperly had his mail-in primary ballot sent to the address of his district office.

Related: Florida Rep. Jamie Grant abruptly withdraws re-election bid for Tampa Bay area seat

Grant has denied the basis of Harrington’s accusations.

He abruptly announced this week that he’s withdrawing from his re-election campaign to take a state administrative post.

Jessica Harrington
Jessica Harrington

Because his withdrawal comes after the deadline to qualify to run for the office, the Republican parties of the two counties represented in the district, Pinellas and Hillsborough, would normally name a replacement to go on the ballot.

But Harrington’s complaint, which she said she intends to file by Friday, says that because his June qualifying papers list a post office box address instead of his residence, he was never legally qualified for the ballot.

If so, she said, that would mean the parties don’t have the option of replacing him, and would leave her unopposed in the election Grant was favored to win.

Harrington, a public school teacher, contends the scenario in which Grant withdrew after qualifying was arranged by Grant and GOP legislative leaders to allow them to choose a ballot replacement without a potential primary fight.

“We believe that Grant has known for months now that he was going to make this move,” she said. “That’s why he sold his house in September. Now our speculation has been verified — stepping down less than 100 days before the election and taking this position.”

Harrington cited Grant’s authorship of a bill in the 2020 legislative session which changed the requirements for the job he intends to fill, the state’s chief information officer, making it better fit Grant’s own qualifications.

In comments to the Times Wednesday, Grant said it’s false that he wrote the bill to suit his own qualifications .

“Anyone who thinks I created a job for myself can’t read policy and is just throwing out cheap political shots,” he said. “Instead of running a data center, the CIO now has to make sure data moves across agencies and he sets the table for cyber security reform.”

He said he sold his house because of upcoming redistricting, not because of any expected move to Tallahassee.

Grant couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday in response to Harrington’s allegations about his residence.

He is still registered to vote at the address of his former Carrollwood home, but listed a Tampa post office box as his address on the state financial disclosure form he filed in June. His mail ballot went to his district office on North Dale Mabry Highway.

A veteran of four House terms in two separate tenures, Grant is the son of former state Sen. John Grant of Tampa, who is a member of the Ethics Commission.

Times Political Editor Steve Contorno contributed to this story.