Nina Hayden out of CD-13 Dem race - endorses Jessica Ehrlich

"What's frustrating is that they really don't have almost any type of culpability when it comes to negligence," she said of the failure of election officials to notice the lack of the notary signature, which Hayden herself says was almost impossible to notice, which is why it escaped her notice as well initially.


Having said that, she takes responsibility for the omission, but would like to see the law changed, saying there was ample time for election officials to notice the problem and contact her before the deadline (she turned the form in on the morning of the final day to qualify).


"I relied on the statement of the individual, and thought everything was okay."


Hayden said what prompted her to fight was the response of election officials, which she says amounted to "Oh, well, you could just sue us."


Describing it as a Catch-22, Hayden said she wasn't sure if she should give up or not. She decided to fight, and a week later was granted a temporary injunction by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis, who ruled that the law did not require strict compliance with all statutory requirements under all circumstances.


But fighting the issue costs money, and "those costs began to mount," Hayden says, while adding that her attorneys were "great." FEC regulations allow candidates fighting litigation that directly affects their campaign to use campaign contributions, so she dipped into those funds.


A final hearing to determine if she were able to run was scheduled for later this week. That obviously won't happen now.


Hayden says she has heard several stories from would-be candidates who reached out to her to describe their own nightmare situations with the Division of Elections office that prevented them from getting on the ballot.


She currently works at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport. She says though this has been a bad situation, it won't deter her from running for office in the future. "We'll see how things work. I don't know when. But this does not quell my determination to do what I feel I'm called to do, which is represent my constituents in the community. I'm all about public service."


She says she will support Jessica Ehrlich, now the only Democrat on the ballot, in her race against 21-term GOP incumbent Bill Young in Pinellas this fall. Ehrlich was already the favorite of the Democratic establishment, having campaigned with Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer and getting a personal audience with President Obama when he campaigned in Tampa last month.

  • Nina Hayden

Nina Hayden is out of the race for the Democratic nomination for Congress in District 13.

Initially ruled ineligible because a notary failed to his sign his name on her qualifying form, Hayden sued and was placed back on the ballot. But the Division of Elections office never attempted to cash the $10,440 needed to qualify until last week.

Unfortunately for Hayden, the check bounced. So she's out of the race for good.

It's been a rough month for the former Pinellas County School Board member. She turned in her qualifying forms and check to qualify for the race against fellow Democrat Jessica Ehrlich on Friday, June 8, the last day to qualify. She says that when she turned in her form late that morning the election clerk reviewed it and said everything looked fine.

But she grew anxious a few hours later when she saw that her name wasn't listed on the state's website list of eligible candidates. She called the Division of Elections and was not told that there was a problem. Instead she was told that because of a backlog, it would her name would probably go up on the site later that day.

It didn't, but nobody informed Hayden. She learned through reports on the Internet the following Monday that the Division of Elections had rejected her forms because of the lack of a signature by a notary

Hayden went to court and sued the state, and a judge put her back on the ballot.

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