The Florida TEA Party claims that two of its candidates who were bounced from the fall ballot were victims of "ticky-tack technicalities" at the state Division of Elections.
James Ferentinos and Marshall DeRosa "did not name a depository as required by statute," said Jennifer Krell Davis, communications director for the Florida Department of State.
DeRosa, who had filed to run in state Senate District 30, was nonplussed.
"I didn't include the address of the bank, but the address was on the check I submitted," said DeRosa, a professor at Florida Atlantic University in Davie.
"I'm not upset, but curious. I question what the secretary of state's motive was. They could have called me if they had a problem and tried to make some accommodation," he said.
Alleging a double standard, TEA Party chairman Fred O'Neal said his review of filings revealed that six other legislative candidates failed to fill in all the blanks on their papers, and yet those forms were accepted.
Ferentinos was seeking to challenge one of those candidates, Senate president-designate Mike Haridopolos.
According to O'Neal, "The secretary of state allowed the following to qualify, despite blanks on their DSDE-9's:
- "Mike Haridopolos, SD 26, Box 18 left blank on 4/7/09 DSDE-9.
- "Luis Melendez, HD 16, Box 18 left blank on 3/18/10 DSDE-9.
- "Rich Workman, HD 30, Box 18 left blank on 6/14/10 DSDE-9.
- "Chris Dorworth, HD 32, Box 12 left blank on 9/25/08 DSDE-9.
- "James Frishe, HD 54, Box 12 left blank on 2/2/09 DSDE-9.
- "Eddie Freeman, HD 79, Box 20 left blank on 6/18/10 DSDE-9."
Haridopolos, Workman, Dorworth and Frishe are incumbents. All except Freeman are Republicans.
Davis told Sunshine State News that each of the six candidates "met the requirements of qualifying by including all of the required information on that form."
The boxes they left empty were not labeled "required" on the DSDE-9 form, whereas the bank/depository field is mandatory.
O'Neal maintains that DeRosa and Ferentinos were arbitrarily singled out and unfairly removed.
"(The Division of Elections) can't look at the qualification fee check drawn off the campaign depository account and figure out which bank the checkis written on?Come on. These are ticky-tack technicalities," he said.
DeRosa, a constitutional law scholar making his first run for elected office, said his removal flies in the face of an Arkansas case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In U.S. Term Limits vs. Thornton, the high court affirmed that voting is "a fundamental right" and ruled that states must not restrict that right, DeRosa said.
"The state should bend over backward to get as many people to run as possible," he said. "I have to wonder why a Democrat gets a free ride for this open seat (Senate District 30)."
State Rep. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, was the only candidate to qualify and has been declared the winner by default.
Though Republicans control Florida's executive and legislative branches, DeRosa maintains that "handing the seat to a Democrat" is just part of a "tweedle-dee, tweedle-dumb game."
"They want to crush any third parties who challenge the dominance of the two-party system," DeRosa opined.
In rejecting Ferentinos' filing papers, the state Division of Elections also ensured that Haridopolos would be unopposed and re-elected automatically.
"I'm not going to take this sitting down," said DeRosa, who vows to run for another office in the next election. "They haven't heard the last from DeRosa."
Contact Kenric Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 801-5341.