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Judge upholds ruling disqualifying write-in candidate for Tampa House seat, opening GOP primary


Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey has reaffirmed her decision to disqualify a man from running as a write-in candidate for a Tampa Bay House seat. She also refused to call for a temporary halt on her order that the planned August primary be postponed and the House District 64 race between two Republicans be opened up to all voters, regardless of party affiliation, in November.

Dempsey ruled last week that Daniel Matthews was not eligible to run as a write-in candidate in House District 64, which includes parts of northern Pinellas and northwest Hillsborough counties, because he didn't live in the district at the time of qualifying. Dempsey said that the primary between incumbent Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, and challenger Miriam Steinberg had erroneously been restricted to Republican voters only.

Tia_HD64noticeBallots have already been printed for the August primary, so Dempsey directed the Hillsborough and Pinellas supervisors of elections to put out notices letting voters know the primary has been rescheduled to November and opened to all voters in the district.

Matthews' attorney has asked the First District Court of Appeal to take up the case, but it is too early to know if that will happen. In the meantime, Matthews requested an emergency hearing with Dempsey to ask her to put aside her ruling while the matter is pending in the higher court.

Dempsey gave each side about 30 minutes during the lunch hour today to make its case. In the end, she upheld her ruling and declined the request for a stay.