New Twist in Sarasota Congressional saga? By Mitch E. Perry

11/16/06

As the manual recount continued today in Florida’s Congressional 13 race between Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings, a new twist is developing in the increasingly bitter battle.

After the machine recount increased Buchanan’s lead over Jennings to 401 votes, it is considered unlikely that the manual recount will bring about a much different result. That means Buchanan could be declared the winner of the race as soon as next Monday morning.

But the Jennings camp will not accept that declaration without a fight. They have strongly hinted at a lawsuit, mainly to question the statistical aberration of over 18,000 undervotes in Sarasota in the race.

And there are reports that if that’s not successful, the Democrats might still place Jennings in the seat.

That’s because a little known provision in the U.S. Constitution gives the House the final decision on who sits in its chamber. And the Democrats will be in control as of January.

Sally Tibbetts is the spokesperson for the Vern Buchanan campaign. She says she has heard of such a scenario (roll tape#1 o.q.� of this election�)

After the election is certified, the losing candidate could then ask the House Administration Committee to investigate.

Salley Collins is a spokesperson for the House Administration Committee. She says it’s hard to say how long it would take to investigate the election (roll tape#2 o.q.�it’s undetermined�)

Locally and nationally, Democrats are reaching out asking for financial help in the inevitable costs for a legal challenge.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rahm Emanuel has sent out a fundraising plea calling on Democrats to donate money to the "Leave No Voter Behind" fund to help with the legal battles.

And Samm Simpson, who lost last week to Republican Bill Young in the District 10 race for Congress, has sent out a similar request to her supporters to help out (roll tape#3�is not a lot�)

The question regarding the nearly 14% of voters in Sarasota who did not cast a vote in the Congressional race continues to dominate the discussion, at least among Jennings supporters.

Tonight/Thursday night a public hearing to voice problems people had at the polls is scheduled to take place at the Sarasota Hyatt.

But Vern Buchanan isn’t worrying too much about any voter irregularities. WMNF asked his spokeswoman, Sally Tibbets, if Buchanan cares about voters who say they had problems at the polls on Election Day (roll tape#4 o.q.�is a myth at this point�)

As to the scenario that the Democratic leadership would somehow overturn a Vern Buchanan declared victory by the Florida Secretary of State, Democratic Congressional candidate Samm Simpson agrees it would be divisive, but adds (roll tape#5 o.q.�to see it go forward�)

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