A Miami Beach publicist won't be on the ballot in Florida House District 113, a judge ruled Friday.
Republican Laura Rivero Levey was disqualified from the race last month after a check she submitted to the Florida Department of State bounced.
The bank accepted responsibility for the returned check, and Levey sued to have her candidacy reinstated. But on Friday, Leon County Judge Charles Francis said he could not extend the qualifying deadline for her.
Francis said state law is clear: Candidates must pay the filing fee before qualifying period ends.
"I find this to be a very harsh decision," he said. "In fact, I don't think there is anything the candidate could have done differently that would have changed what happened during the week… But I am bound by the precedent that says when the legislature speaks as to a particular item, I am not to guess at what it means."
The ruling means incumbent David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, will be automatically re-elected.
Richardson was already told he was the official winner. But he was waiting on the ruling to close out his campaign accounts.
After the hearing, Levey said the state Division of Elections needs reforming.
"What happened was very unfair and I will think about appealing [the decision]," she said.
Richardson, however, called the ruling consistent with state statute.
"It's unfortunate for Ms. Levey because she wanted to be a candidate in the race," Richardson said. "But the law is the law."