Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, hosted by ABC News, Apple News, and WMUR-TV at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
That prominent Florida Democrats are sounding alarm bells over Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT ) is one of the more interesting developments to happen in the aftermath of his recent remarks defending his past praise of murderous former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
But two Florida residents who are registered Democrats have created perhaps an even bigger stir this week in the Democratic presidential nominating contest by filing a lawsuit claiming Sanders shouldn’t be on the Democratic primary ballot in Florida. Their reason? He’s not a registered Democrat:
The two Tallahassee residents are asking the Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, both of which are named as defendants, to disqualify the Vermont progressive from the ballot and block certification of his votes.
“The plaintiffs have the right to cast their March 17 Democratic presidential preference primary votes for those who are really Democrats, not independents, and are entitled to this court’s protection of their right to vote for a Democrat, with the results not diluted by Defendant Sanders’ unlawful participation as an independent interloping improperly in the (primary),” the complaint says.
The two people who filed the lawsuit are Frank Bach and George Brown. Both are retired. They are represented by Karen Gievers, a former circuit court judge in Florida who is also Bach’s wife.
Gievers told the Tallahassee Democrat that this lawsuit has nothing to do with recent concerns raised by Democrats about Sanders’ electability:
“Their concern is that there not be someone running as a Democrat who isn’t because that’s messing up their vote,” she said.
The complaint names as defendants the Florida Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, Sanders himself and Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Florida’s chief elections officer. It seeks to block Lee from certifying votes for Sanders, and stop the Democratic Party from awarding any delegates to him ahead of the summer convention.
The plaintiffs also note that Florida’s primaries are closed primaries, meaning a Democrat can’t vote in the Republican primary and vice versa.
They make an interesting point regarding Sanders status as an “Independent” in a Democratic primary, but why wait until three weeks before the primary to file the complaint? Furthermore, I’m not sure his running as an Independent instead of a Democrat is an automatic disqualifier, since there is no party registration in his home state of Vermont.
Still, he refers to himself as an Independent even though he has long caucused with Democrats.
Florida Democrats and the Bernie campaign indicated in statements to Politico that they weren’t too concerned about the lawsuit.
“We’re aware of the spurious complaint and it will not affect us. Bernie will be on the ballot in Florida,” Sanders’ regional press secretary Kolby Lee told Politico.
Word of advice for the two plaintiffs: Stay as far away from Twitter and the Bernie Bros as you can. 😉
Read the full complaint here.