Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Judge to hear resign to run lawsuit

Doral Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz (Dem.), who is running to replace State Rep. David Rivera (Rep.) in District 112, could be removed from the ballot over a technicality if a Miami-Dade judge agrees with two opposing candidates who filed lawsuits last month alleging the front runner violated state law when she did not resign from her current office by the deadline.

County Judge Jerald Bagley decided Wednesday that he would hear arguments from the attorneys representing Johnny Farias (Dem.) and Jeanette Nuñez (Rep.), who seek to have Ruiz removed from the Aug. 24 primary because she did not resign from her current elected office as required by the resign to run law. Attorneys for Ruiz -- Dem veterans Ben Kuehne and Joe Geller -- lost their motion to dismiss the case. Their argument is that there would be no overlap of the terms and that the law's intent was to prevent "back door safety valve" exits for the sitting electeds who run for another seat. Kuehne said the suit is "gameplaying" -- a vanilla word for political machinations.

Judge Bagley set a hearing for July 30 to consider both sides.

Ruiz sounded tired when she took a call from Ladra late Wednesday.

"The worse part about this is that you have people within the [Democratic] Party trying to tear down the most viable, eligible candidate," said Ruiz, who was endorsed by the Miami Herald and some of the big groups, like the AFL-CIO, the United Teachers of Dade and the PBA. Most observers agree that she is a stronger candidate against a Republican for the November election.

"It's a sad day for Democrats," Ruiz said.

She did not name him but obviously referred to Farias, who has complained that the Party has favored Ruiz before the primary. His attorney, William Peña Wells, argues that there could be overlap in the two terms if the election is close in Doral or there is a recount.

Farias could not be reached for comment, but was optimistic on his facebook page Wednesday morning when he posted between 8 and 9 a.m.: "Good morning FB family, should be a great day today." His wife (who, by the way, is running for a seat on a community council -- and we will blog more on that later) commented: "Go get them babe. Today belongs to you."

Ruiz told Ladra that she was confident she would win the court battle and said she would continue to court voters in the meantime. In fact, she is slated to speak at the Miami Dade Young Democrats meeting Tuesday at Chop House on Biscayne Boulevard.

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