First Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ticked off people in Florida after he praised former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Now two Florida residents, who are registered Democrats, sued to keep Sanders off the Democratic primary ballot since he is an Independent.

The primary takes place on March 17.

Former circuit court judge Karen Gievers is representing Frank Bach, a retired mailman, and George Brown, a retired social worker. She is married to Bach.

The suit lists the following as defendants:

  • Florida Democratic Party
  • Democratic National Committee
  • Sanders
  • Secretary of State Laurel Lee

The plaintiffs claim in the lawsuit that they “have the right to cast their March 17 Democratic presidential preference primary votes for those who are really Democrats, not independents, and are entitled to this court’s protection of their right to vote for a Democrat, with the results not diluted by Defendant Sanders’ unlawful participation as an independent interloping improperly in the (primary).”

From the Tallahassee Democrat:

The complaint asserts there is no basis in Florida law for an independent to run in the Democratic primary. It also notes that Sanders has raised nearly a million dollars as an independent running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat in 2024.

“Defendant Sanders is clearly an independent and is clearly not a Democrat, by his own definition,” the lawsuit says. “His current ‘day job’ is as a United States senator and he has consistently, proudly asserted his service in that role as independent.”

The Vermont senator appeared on Florida ballots in 2016 during his first bid for president. He finished a distant second to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It’s too late to actually remove Sanders from the ballot. Thousands of Florida voters have already returned mail ballots in the Democratic primary, a fact mentioned in the complaint.

Florida has a closed primary, but the law allows the state party to decide who can appear on the ballot.

The Florida Democratic Party voted in 2019 “to include major candidates with national attention and national reach.” This is why the party’s executive director Juan Penalosa described the lawsuit as “ridiculous.”


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