2 Florida Democrats Sue to Keep 'Independent' Bernie Sanders Off the State's Primary Ballot

“You can’t be an 'Independent' and be a member of the Democrat Party.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Texas Insider Report) — Self-described Democrat-Socialist and Independent Bernie Sanders should not be allowed to run as a Democrat in Florida’s March 17th Presidential Primary, say two Florida Democrats who filed a lawsuit Monday to remove his name from the ballot. Tallahassee Democrats and military veterans Frank Bach & George Brown, represented by former Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers, presented evidence that Sanders serves as an "Independent" in the U.S. Senate, and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to run as a Democrat in the state’s Closed Primary.

“Florida is a Closed Primary State, yet here we have someone who is an 'Independent' on the Democrat Ballot,” said Gievers. “You can’t be an 'Independent' and be a member of the party,” Gievers said.

While Sanders is listed as an "Independent" in the U.S. Senate, Federal Election Commission records show him listing himself as an "Independent," and raising money for his Senate Campaign as an 'Independent" — while "Caucusing" with Senate Democrats, according to the lawsuit. He is simultaneously running for president as a Democrat.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in a Leon County Circuit Court, and asks that Sanders be disqualified from the Democrat Primary because he’s a declared independent.

Leon County is located in the Florida Panhandle. The county seat is Tallahassee, which is also the state capital and home of many politicians, lobbyists, jurists, and attorneys.
 
The lawsuit also asks Florida State Election Officials to nullify any votes that have already been cast for Sanders in early voting, which could impact a significant amount of the 244,000 Democrats who have already cast ballots by mail.

Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democrat Party, called the lawsuit “ridiculous.”

“The Florida Democratic Party executive committee voted unanimously to place Senator Sanders on the Florida ballot,” Penalosa said. “Votes cast for the senator are valid, and must be counted.”

Kolby Lee, Regional Press Secretary for Sanders, also was dismissive of the lawsuit. “We’re aware of the spurious complaint and it will not affect us. Bernie will be on the ballot in Florida,” Lee said.

Gievers said she looked forward to hearing from Democrat Party attorneys, but also noted, “It‘s hard to think that voter suppression or dilution would be described as ridiculous by a party official.”
 
 In March 2019, after launching his presidential bid, Sanders signed a pledge declaring he was a Democrat.

“I am a member of the Democratic Party,” the signed pledge states.

“I will run as a Democrat, accept the nomination of my Party, and I will serve as a Democrat if elected.”

Florida law gives political parties leeway to decide which candidates can appear on a party’s primary ballot. Last year, the Florida Democrat Party chose to include major candidates with national attention and national reach.

Sixteen candidates are currently listed on Florida’s upcoming March 17th Democrat presidential primary ballot, even though several have already withdrawn from the race.
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