News (USA)

Gay Dem candidate sues his own aunt for running against him under almost the same name

Gay Dem candidate sues his own aunt for running against him under almost the same name

Florida state House District 106 candidate Joe Saunders (D) has filed a lawsuit against his aunt after she announced she would be running against him under the name “Moe Saunders.”

“Moe Saunders” – whose full name is Maureen Saunders Scott – will appear immediately under Joe Saunders’ name on the ballot in the general election, which Saunders says will “siphon votes away.”

Saunders also sued Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd (R) and Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Christina White in their official capacities in an attempt to get his aunt disqualified from the ballot.

Saunders and his husband live in the Miami Beach neighborhood. Saunders says he is one of Florida’s first openly LGBTQ+ lawmakers. He is the only Democratic candidate who filed in the district and is running against incumbent state Rep. Fabian Basabe, a Republican who won by only 242 votes in the last election.

“Maureen Saunders Scott is propping up and those propping up her candidacy are attempting to violate Florida law, fool local voters, and siphon votes away from Democratic candidate Joe Saunders by using the fake moniker ‘Moe Saunders,'” Saunders posted in a statement to his X account.

Saunders Scott filed as an independent. She alleges that she filed under “Moe” because it is her nickname.

“A ‘Fake’ nickname of over 40 yrs?” she wrote on X. “Is Joe suggesting that is not what he has called me his whole life?”

The lawsuit also says that Saunders Scott should be barred from running because of other misrepresentations on her paperwork, such as the fact that she lives in St. Johns County, far from House District 106. State law only requires a candidate to live in the district at the point they take office, but Saunders Scott said that she was an elector in Miami-Dade County.

Saunders says that Saunders Scott used the name “Mo,” not “Moe,” until she filed as a candidate. The lawsuit points out that on social media, Saunders Scott calls herself “Aunt Mo.” The name “Moe Saunders” only started appearing after she filed her candidacy.

“I know my nephew and I know he is bad for Florida. I have seen the incumbent’s record and believe he is also a bad choice for Florida,” Saunders Scott posted on X.

Kendall Coffey, an attorney for Joe Saunders’ campaign, said, “This is a clear violation of Florida law, and the facts speak for themselves: Maureen Saunders Scott is attempting to deceive, mislead, and confuse voters supporting Joe Saunders by using a false nickname on the ballot.”

“She has not acted in good faith or with honest purpose and has therefore failed to properly qualify as a candidate. In defense of our democracy, this kind of conduct must not be allowed, and ‘Moe Saunders’ must not appear on the ballot in November.”

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