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Tampa Congressional candidate remains on the ballot after appellate court decision

list of names running for elected office in an election ballot
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections

Republican voters in Congressional District 14 are deciding between three candidates: Jerry Torres, James Judge and Samar “Sam” Nashagh.

A Tampa Republican vying for a chance to run against incumbent Congresswoman Kathy Castor is on the Aug. 23 ballot after an appellate court ruled Friday that the party's challenging his eligibility have no stake in the case.

Attorneys for Republican candidate Jerry Torres had asked the 1st District Court of Appeal in early August to at least temporarily halt a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper while a legal battle continues.

The appeals court agreed, overturning a lower court decision that Torres wasineligible to run in Congressional District 14 in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties because campaign paperwork was not properly notarized.

The Florida Democratic Party and other plaintiffs including Tampa attorneys Sean Shaw and Thomas Hodges argued that Torres is ineligible to run.

In its 10-page ruling, the court agreed with Torres' argument that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to challenge whether or not the paperwork Torres turned in met specific deadlines by the state. The court said the plaintiffs did not they were directly affected by Torres' action. The plaintiffs had argued they had standing under Florida's Declaratory Judgment Act.

The court's ruling did say its decision was based on this narrow issue and did not speak to whether there was "perjury or unlawful notarization work done here." One of the judges added that because plaintiffs had no standing to sue, the other arguments did not need to be addressed.

Friday’s decision came as the appeals court also considers a dispute about the eligibility of Democratic candidate Rebekah Jones in Congressional District 1 in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Republican voters in Congressional District 14 will see three candidates on the ballot: Torres, James Judge and Samar “Sam” Nashagh.

Voting in the primary election ends at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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