Not that there was any real suspense, but David Silvers and Al Jacquet have now been officially elected to the Florida House of Representatives, Mack Bernard has been elected to the Palm Beach County commission and Katherine Waldron has won a seat on the Port of Palm Beach commission.
The four candidates — all Democrats — officially won their seats during the past week when write-in candidates who had qualified to run against them in the Nov. 8 general election withdrew from the races, according to the Palm Beach County elections office.
Silvers, Jacquet, Bernard and Waldron could all safely begin measuring the drapes for their new offices after they won Democratic primaries on Aug. 30. No Republicans or independent candidates qualified to appear on the general election ballot against them.
But because write-in candidates also filed for those races, the Democratic primary winners were scheduled to go through the formality of having their names on the Nov. 8 ballot along with a blank space for voters to write in another candidate’s name.
Under Florida law, when all the candidates for an office are from the same party and the winner would have no opposition in the general election, the primary becomes a “universal primary” open to all voters regardless of party affiliation. For instance, when Democrats Kevin Rader and Mindy Koch were the only candidates for the state Senate District 29 seat, their Aug. 30 race became open to Republicans and other voters in the district rather than just Democrats.
Partisan Democrats and Republicans usually try to block voters from rival parties from participating in their primaries. Because write-ins automatically run in the general election, the presence of a write-in negates a universal primary and limits the race to voters of a single party.
That’s what happened in House District 87 when Silvers and two other Democrats were the only candidates to qualify for the ballot and Daniel N. Perez qualified as a write-in. Perez’s candidacy prevented Republicans and no-party voters from voting in the District 87 primary. Then Perez withdrew his candidacy last Thursday, leaving Silver unopposed.
Similarly, Jacquet and two other Democrats were the only candidates to qualify for the ballot in House District 88. Sebrina Gillion‘s write-in candidacy blocked Republicans and other voters from participating in the Aug. 30 primary. Gillion withdrew last Wednesday, leaving Jacquet unopposed.
In the county commission District 7 race, Bernard and three other Democrats ran on Aug. 30. Write-in Rhonda Patton blocked non-Democrats from having a say. Patton withdrew after the primary.
In the Port of Palm Beach Group 2 race, not one but two write-ins — Joseph Anderson and Pamela Williams — assured that only Democratic voters could participate in the primary between Waldron and three other Democrats. After Waldron’s Aug. 30 primary win, both Anderson and Williams withdrew.