Saturday, December 30, 2006

Everything Coming Up Roses For GOP Victor in Disputed Race

Things are breaking in the direction of the Republican candidate in the disputed race for Florida's 13th Congressional district seat vacated by former Rep. Katherine Harris.

Republican Vern Buchanan won two major victories on Friday, removing key barriers that had stood in the way of him representing the 13th District in Congress.

Hours after Democrats announced they would seat Buchanan next week when Congress will swear in its new members, a Florida court threw out Democrat Christine Jennings' legal challenge to the Nov. 7 election results.

Circuit Judge William Gary ruled that Jennings' case was based on conjecture and speculation, and denied her request to see the source codes in the software that helps run Sarasota County's touch-screen voting machines. Gary ruled that he wouldn't open up the source codes, which would reveal trade secrets of the voting machine company Election Systems & Software Inc.

The source codes are a key in helping Jennings make her case that voting machines may have malfunctioned.

The combination of the political decision by Democrats in Congress and the legal decision in Tallahassee makes certain Buchanan will take his seat in Congress on Thursday.

"I am looking forward to taking office next week," said Buchanan, R-Longboat Key. "I have assembled my staff, and I am ready to get to work on behalf of the people of Florida's 13th Congressional District."

Although Jennings said she will press forward by challenging the election results in Congress -- her last hope -- she'll have to do it with Buchanan sitting in Congress.

A spokesman for incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said it is in the best interest of voters in the 13th District that Buchanan be seated in Congress, despite Jennings' ongoing challenge.

"We see this as the best way to have continuing representation for the people of that district," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.

The decision removes a significant political distraction as the Democratic Party ascends to power in the House for the first time in a dozen years.

<< Home