BY STEVE ROTHAUS
State Rep. David Richardson, Florida's first openly gay legislator, has won reelection without opposition – his Republican challenger bounced her filing fee check and has been kicked off the November ballot.
"I learned at 5:03 p.m. [Tuesday] that I had been declared the winner by the Florida Department of Elections," said Richardson, D-Miami Beach.
Shortly after getting the cellphone news, Richardson, 57, posted to his Facebook page:
CELEBRATION TIME! I just got a call from the Florida Dept. of Elections and was notified that my Republican opponent's check covering the election filing fee has "bounced." She has been disqualified and as of today I AM THE OFFICIAL UNCHALLENGED WINNER in my re-election to the Florida House of Representatives District 113. You just can't make this stuff up. There will be a South Florida party coming soon.
"My wife has never bounced a check in her life and she's a millionaire," said collections attorney Lewis Levey, husband of Richardson's former opponent, Laura Levey, a publicist and former Miami Beach mayoral candidate.
"The bank put a hold on the two grand that was in the account," Lewis Levey said. "Nobody told us. I found out about it yesterday."
According to Richardson, Levey reported two campaign contributions after filing ended June 20. "One hundred dollars from herself and a $2,000 contribution from the Republican Party of Florida."
Levey's report showed only one expenditure: her $1,781.82 filing fee.
Richardson, a forensic accountant, won his Democratic primary in August 2012 and had no Republican challenger in the following general election, making him the first openly gay person in Florida's Legislature. Democrat Joe Saunders of the Orlando area, who is also gay, also was elected in the November 2012 general election.
Richardson's district cuts from Miami Beach to Little Havana in Miami.
Monday night, Richardson attended the White House's 2014 pride reception. He was still in Washington when he got the news that Levey was off the ballot.
"Last night, I had already scheduled a reception for my friends and supporters in D.C.," Richardson said Wednesday morning. "That turned into something of a victory celebration."