Desperation: Florida Democrats File a Lawsuit to Take Sanders Off Primary Ballot
Courthouse News Service reported on Democrat’s latest efforts to derail 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
Democrat voters in Florida’s Panhandle filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 contending that Sanders should be listed as an independent candidate for the state’s primary on May 17 because he’s technically not a Democrat.
Veterans and lifelong Democrats Frank Bach and George Brown filed the suit in Leon County Circuit Court. Their complaint argues that Florida law requires a candidate to run for the party that they are affiliated with.
Tallahassee-based lawyer Karen Grievers wrote the filing. The two plaintiffs assert that having Sanders on the Democratic ballot will “adversely affect their right to have the Democratic presidential preference primary limited to those who are, in fact, Democrats.”
The complaint named Sanders, the Florida Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee and Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee as defendants. The suit mentioned that Florida has a closed primary system, which means residents must be registered members of a political party to vote during the primary.
“Defendant Sanders is clearly an Independent, and is clearly not a Democrat, by his own definitions,” the lawsuit declared. “His current ‘day job’ is as a United States senator and he has consistently, proudly asserted his service in that role as Independent; he is one of two Independents identified as serving in the Senate.”
Bach and Brown also alluded to Sanders’ current fundraising campaign for his upcoming Senate election, when he will run again as an Independent, as grounds for being taken off the ballot. The lawsuit features copies of the Vermont senator’s recent campaign finance information demonstrating how he’s raised slightly under $1 million thus far for his 2024 reelection effort.
“In this day and age of increasing disregard for the law, it is essential that the [plaintiffs have the] right to vote and select from true Democrats in the March 17 Democratic presidential preference primary without dilution of the effect of their votes,” the complaint stated.
The two voters are petitioning a state judge to bar Sanders from the Democratic primary and prevent Secretary of State Lee from certifying any votes cast for him during the election.
In an email statement, Sanders spokesperson Kolby Lee said the campaign knows about the “spurious complaint” but that it will not affect the candidate’s status in Florida’s primary.
“Bernie will be on the ballot in Florida,” Lee said.
However, in a phone interview, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Grievers, emphasized that this wasn’t a politically motivated lawsuit, but rather an attempt to make Sanders follow the rules.
“The law matters and peoples’ rights matter,” she asserted.