Democrat Annette Taddeo was supposed to qualify as a candidate for Congress the populist way, by collecting some 3,000 petition signatures to show her candidacy had grassroots support. Her campaign even hired a Republican consultant -- raising eyebrows among some Democrats -- to organize the signature-gathering.
Instead, Taddeo ended up handing over a check two weeks ago for $10,440 to get on the ballot.
The petition effort appears to have gotten caught in the tumult of Taddeo's campaign shake-up. Her former campaign manager, Shaun Harris, hired consultant Emiliano Antunez, known for running local GOP races, to amass the petitions. But the hiring happened late, Antunez said, giving him only about 30 days to get the job done.
"It's not that she wasn't getting the support -- the signatures were coming in at the usual clip," Antunez said. "It's that by the time they decided to pull the trigger, there was just no way to do it with that time."
The belated hiring probably took place because national Democrats concerned about Taddeo's campaign spending -- and her lagging behind rival Joe Garcia -- didn't OK the expenditure earlier. Taddeo eventually fired Harris and his team.
Her new crew came in just a couple of weeks before the June 24 qualifying deadline and chose to pay the fee instead. But it made the mistake of saying in a news release that she had filed "qualifying petitions." Campaign spokesman Omer Farooque declined to comment about the error.
What the incident underscores, however, is that campaigns in upheaval make mistakes -- or spend money on things they later don't end up needing. And a trailing candidate who's got about a month before the first mail-in ballots go out probably can't afford more of them.
Garcia also paid a qualifying fee. Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo collected enough petitions to qualify.
Back when Curbelo first ran, in 2014, he took heat from Democrats (then-incumbent Garcia and Taddeo herself, as chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party) for trying to qualify by petition and then resorting to paying the fee.
This post has been updated.