Monday former State Rep. Joe Negron got the nod as the GOP's candidate in the 16th Congressional District.
Foley's name will still appear on the ballot, but Negron will automatically get any votes cast for him. Foley abruptly resigned Friday amidst allegations that he sent sexually suggestive emails to a 16-year-old congressional page.
Foley says he is seeking treatment for alcoholism and accepts responsibility for his actions, but the Republican Party has a fight on its hands to retain the seat.
Florida Statute 100.111 is very clear. Mark Foley’s name will remain on the November ballot. Votes cast for Foley will go to his successor.
Political scientist Lance DeHaven Smith says Republicans will have their hands full trying to keep the seat.
“They’ll see a name. They’ll say, ‘hey, this guy’s a pedophile; I’m not going to vote for him.’ If they know enough about it, they may vote for him, but even then it may be, ‘well, I don’t know this other person.’"
Although this seat was once considered safe, even Republicans now admit that getting voters to check the box for an alleged pedophile is going to be tricky.
Corey Tilley, GOP spokesman, said, “They’re going to have to make sure that folks understand that this new candidate will not be on the ballot, but yet a vote for a previous candidate is really a vote for a new nominee. It’s very tricky.”
State Democrats says that when voters go to the polls they should be thinking not only about Foley, but of a cover-up by top national GOP officials who were reportedly told about Foley more than a year ago.
Luis Navarro, Florida Democratic Party Executive Director, said, "They knew very well, or at least it’s clear that they felt that to deal with this matter would endanger their position of power.”
And while Republicans have been sorting out who will run, Democrat Tim Mahoney is hitting the airways with support from one of the state’s best known Democrats.
Florida Democrats are also calling on the national GOP to donate more than $100,000 Foley gave the Republican Congressional Committee to a missing and exploited children’s fund.
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