Florida Dems turn to the courts to keep Bernie Sanders off primary ballot

Following his victory in New Hampshire, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has risen to the top of the Democratic presidential primary field, leaving moderate Dems worried there may be no way to stop the self-described socialist from winning the party’s nomination to take on President Donald Trump.

Now, with concerns mounting that Sanders has no chance of winning against Trump this November, two Democrats are turning to the courts in hopes of removing Bernie from the ballot altogether. Politico reported Tuesday that a pair of Florida Democrats had filed a lawsuit hoping to block Sanders from appearing on the state’s Democratic primary ballot next month.

A voice for the moderates

The suit, filed Monday, complains that Sanders is technically registered as an independent and thus, should be disqualified from running as a Democrat.

“Florida is a closed primary state, yet here we have someone who is an independent on the Democratic ballot,” Karen Gievers, a former circuit court judge who is representing the two plaintiffs in the suit, told Politico. “You can’t be an independent and be a member of the party.”

According to Politico, Gievers’ clients are two Tallahassee Democrats — including one she’s very close to. The suit was filed by 80-year-old George Brown and Gievers’ husband, 82-year-old Frank Bach. Both men, Gievers said, are military veterans.

“In our political climate today, Democrats need to have a voice,” Brown recently told the Tampa Bay Times.

Co-plaintiff Bach meanwhile said he is “very upset with the president we have right now.”

“He’s eliminating my vote as a Democrat,” Bach said of Sanders, according to the Times.

Bernie on the ballot?

But while the Democratic establishment may appear to be itching for a way to defeat Sanders, the Florida Democratic Party isn’t sold on the idea of forcing him out of the race.

“The Florida Democratic Party executive committee voted unanimously to place Senator Sanders on the Florida ballot,” Juan Penalosa, the state party’s executive director, told Politico. “Votes cast for the senator are valid and must be counted,” he insisted, adding that the lawsuit is “ridiculous.”

Sanders’ own regional press secretary, Kolby Lee, reacted similarly. “We’re aware of the spurious complaint and it will not affect us,” Lee declared, according to Politico. “Bernie will be on the ballot in Florida.”

A poll released Thursday showed that former Vice President Joe Biden is currently leading the race in Florida, with Sanders taking third place behind former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. While the Vermont senator is performing well nationally, Sanders has made a number of comments — including recently — praising former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, remarks that are expected to hurt him among Cuban-American voters in the Sunshine State.

Florida voters are scheduled to go to the polls on March 17.

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