The absurdity that has marred the HD 64 contest since last summer continues, with GOP candidate Miriam Steinberg dropping out of the special election GOP primary scheduled for February. That means that Jamie Grant, the former incumbent, will now face (and likely destroy) write-in candidate Daniel Matthews in the special general election contest scheduled for April 21. The contest will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the outcome not in doubt, as no write-in candidate has ever won an election in Florida. Even if Steinberg had qualified by the noon deadline on Tuesday, she would remain a heavy underdog to Grant, who was first elected to the half-Pinellas/half-Hillsborough district back in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. He defeated Steinberg last month by a 59.5 percent to 40.5 percent margin.
However, that wasn’t the general election, but actually a “universal primary,” that didn’t include Matthews. But the results were thrown out by the House of Representatives and a new election was called for, based on ongoing litigation.
Steinberg says she didn’t qualify by Tuesday’s deadline because of a dispute with the state Division of Elections regarding her filing fee. Because the special election scheduled for 2015 is considered a new election, all of the candidates had to submit new filing fees of $1,781. Steinberg says she asked the state to reapply the fee she already paid, but they rejected that claim.
The reason that House District 64 remains without a representative in Tallahassee has to do with state law that allows a write-in candidate to close what should be a universal primary open to all voters.