An appeals court won't let Republican Laura Rivero Levey continue her bid for Florida House District 113.
Levey, a Miami Beach publicist, was disqualified from the race after a check she submitted to the state bounced.
Levey's bank said it had mistakenly placed a hold on the account, and she immediately sent a cashier's check to the state. But because she missed the deadline for qualifying, the Division of Elections refused to put her name on the ballot.
Incumbent state Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, was declared the winner.
Levey sued in hopes of having her candidacy reinstated. A circuit court judge ruled against her last month.
The First District Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's decision in a 2-1 ruling Wednesday.
"Although we agree with the trial court that this result is harsh, it is mandated by the clear language of the statute," Chief Judge Joseph Lewis, Jr. wrote in the majority opinion. "If a candidate's qualifying check is returned for any reason, the candidate must pay the qualifying fee by cashier's check before the end of the qualifying period. Levey’s check was returned, the reason for that occurring is immaterial, and she failed to cure the deficiency within the time allotted by the statute."
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Robert T. Benton, II said there was never any need for Levey to send a "cure check."
"The check Mrs. Levey originally tendered, which the Secretary of State accepted, has never been returned to her," Benton said. "The state needs only to see that it is presented anew to the now apologetic bank and direct the Supervisor of Elections in Miami-Dade County to let the voters choose between Mrs. Levey and Mr. Richardson."
Richardson said he was pleased with the outcome.
"It is unfortunate Ms. Levey will not be a candidate during this election cycle since she seems eager to challenge me on the campaign trail," he said in a statement. "However, the law is the law. If any citizen believes a Florida election law should be changed, they have every right to lobby the legislature, but the courts cannot and should not re-write a clear, unambiguous and constitutional law."
Read the opinion below.