State Supreme Court rejects write-in case involving Angela Corey

Court declines case involving write-in candidate in state attorney's race

Angela Corey, Melissa Nelson and Wesley White debate Tuesday at Jacksonville University

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Supreme Court has declined to take up a case involving a write-in candidate in a controversial state attorney's race in the Jacksonville area.

A group of voters asked the high court to consider the case centered on Daniel Kenneth Leigh, who qualified as a write-in candidate in the race for state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which includes Duval, Clay and Nassau counties.

The other three candidates in the race, including incumbent State Attorney Angela Corey, are Republicans.

Leigh's presence in the race closed the Aug. 30 primary, which meant only Republican voters were able to cast ballots --- and effectively decide the winner.

Corey was defeated in her re-election bid by Melissa Nelson, a former prosecutor, who garnered 64 percent of the vote over the incumbent's 26 percent in the circuit. Following the August election, Leigh withdrew from the race, making Nelson the winner.

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday denied the request to take up the challenge "having determined that it should decline to accept jurisdiction" after reviewing preliminary briefs in the case.

The plaintiffs had alleged that Leigh's candidacy is a sham intended to help Corey get re-elected. But a circuit judge and the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected the challenge, pointing to earlier court rulings that said the presence of write-in candidates leads to closed primaries.

Voters in 1998 approved a constitutional amendment that opens primaries to all voters if every candidate is from the same party. Courts have interpreted that to mean write-in candidates, though having little chance of winning in November, close primaries.