I wrote this email on April 8, 2020 to other Congressional candidates as well as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections.
Hello fellow candidates,
I am in complete agreement with you.
This is a completely nonpartisan issue.
Florida’s fee of $10,440 for major party candidates to run for Congress is insane.
The petition requirements are also very steep, ranging from 3,749 to 5,772 petitions depending on the district. There are 171 part-affiliated Congressional candidates listed on the Division of Elections website (as well as one write-in candidate who does not have to collect petitions or pay a fee). As of April 8, 2020, only NINE of them qualified by acquiring voter petitions: Donna Deegan (Democrat, CD4), Bill Posey (Republican, CD8), Dana Cottrell (Democrat, CD11), Daniel Webster (Republican, CD11), Gus Michael Bilirakis (Republican, CD12), Margaret Good (Democrat, CD16), Brian Mast (Republican, CD18), Ted Deutch (Democrat, CD22), and Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican, CD25).
The steepness of either method ($10,440 fee or petitions) is true even when there isn’t a highly contagious, dangerous pandemic impacting Florida. Now, I believe it truly is unlawful and the requirements should immediately be reduced quite drastically. I would recommend a 70% reduction in petition requirements for all candidates (federal and state/local) and an elimination of state assessment fees. Keep the party assessment fees if you’d like, which would be $3,480 for Congressional candidates, but waive the $6,960 of state fees.
Although I was able to pony up the $10,440 fee to get on the ballot, this just isn’t fair to most candidates. To be quite honest, it’s most advantageous to wealthy, well-connected candidates, including incumbents, who get multiple $2,800 campaign contributions from wealth individuals and $5,000 or $10,000 per PAC.
Recently, Governor Ron DeSantis proceeded with issuing $543.2 million of unnecessary tax giveaways to large Florida corporations. These giveaways are going to big businesses, not small businesses. For the 162 Congressional candidates who did not qualify by petition method, waiving $6,960 of fees would be a loss of $1,127,520 of state revenue. That’s only 0.2% of the amount of the recent taxpayer-funded corporate tax giveaway bonanza. In fact, it would be even less, because not all candidates who have filed will qualify.
If we add on approximately 330 candidates for the state legislature, waiving $1,187.88 of state fees for all of these candidates would cost no more than $392,000, and in fact less because a bigger percentage of these candidates will qualify by petition.
I think the State of Florida, which recently gave away $543.2 million to big businesses, can easily afford to forgo $1.52 million of revenue on ballot access fees.
Dr. Richard Thripp
Progressive Democrat for U.S. Congress (#FL6)
Updated 4/09/2020: I corrected the fact that there are 9 federal candidates who qualified by petition, not 3 as I had previously heard from a fellow candidate in an email.