Both candidates can stake legitimate claims to the political center. Mahoney is a former Republican, while Negron is a former Democrat.
But Negron faces a particularly difficult obstacle – he must find a way to win an election without his name appearing on the ballot.
Because Mr. Foley resigned so late, Republicans were barred from changing the ballot. Election law in Florida establishes a strict deadline for ballot changes. If a candidate withdraws after the deadline, the original candidate's name remains on the ballot, though a replacement candidate receives any votes cast for the original candidate.
A similar situation arose in 2004 when the Democratic challenger in a race in nearby Palm Beach and Broward counties suddenly pulled out for health reasons. Although the new candidate's name did not appear on the ballot, signs were posted in each precinct to help clarify the situation.
Following Foley's departure from the current campaign, elections officials were discussing the possibility of posting similar precinct signs. The proposed signs were designed to explain that a vote for Foley would be counted as a vote for Negron. The signs also explained that a vote for the Democratic candidate, Mahoney, would be counted as a vote for Mahoney. The balanced wording on the posted signs was intended to avoid granting an unfair advantage to any one candidate, while at the same time preventing voter confusion.
The state Democratic Party sued to block not only precinct signs but any verbal communication between poll workers and voters concerning Foley's name on the ballot or Negron's candidacy. Last week, a state judge granted the Democratic Party's request for an injunction. Circuit Judge Janet Ferris barred election officials in the 16th District from posting special signs or verbally explaining why Negron's name was not on the ballot and why Foley's name was still on.