Florida Politics

Gov. Scott orders special election to replace Miami lawmaker who resigned

Former state Rep. Daisy Baez, D-Coral Gables, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor perjury charge over a case regarding her legal residency.
Former state Rep. Daisy Baez, D-Coral Gables, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor perjury charge over a case regarding her legal residency. cmguerrero@miamiherald.com

A special election to replace a Miami-Dade County legislator who resigned last week will be held next spring, leaving Florida Democrats short a member during the entirety of the upcoming lawmaking session.

On Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott scheduled the special House District 114 primary for Feb. 20 and the special general election for May 1. The 60-day legislative session begins Jan. 9.

Democrats will be left with only 40 members in the 120-member chamber. Republicans are on the verge of a super majority able to override the governor and give little heed to Democratic requests. Scott was under no obligation to set the election before session.

Rep. Daisy Baez of Coral Gables resigned Nov. 1 as part of a deal cut with prosecutors. She pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor perjury charge in a case involving her legal residency.

Baez signed a change-of-address voter form swearing she lived in District 114 when in fact she continued to live in District 112, as the Miami Herald revealed in May. The Florida Constitution requires legislators to reside in the districts they represent.

District 114, which includes parts of Coral Gables, South Miami, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay, is a swing district Baez won by only 1,336 votes last year over Republican John Couriel. The seat was previously held by Erik Fresen, a Republican.

The Miami-Dade elections department could have scheduled the special primary for as early as Feb. 3, but Christina White, the elections supervisor, noted that would have required sending overlapping mail ballots to some 1,200 district voters involved in other local elections — possibly resulting in voter confusion.

District 114 candidates will have until noon on Dec. 27 to qualify. As part of her plea agreement, Baez is ineligible to run for office for one year, during which she will be serving probation.

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