Ken Hagan’s seat will be filled by appointment in 2010

A few weeks ago, the news broke that Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, currently in District 2, has filed to run for outgoing Commissioner Jim Norman’s District 5 seat. I posted about this a few weeks ago. Wayne Garcia posted last week that State Senator Victor Crist has filed to run for Hagan’s seat. Now we have confirmation that may be a moot point.

According to the Governor’s office, barring anything unexpected, there will not be a special election for Hagan’s seat in 2010.

Here are the details.

First, Florida law requires Hagan to officially resign from his current seat to run for a different seat when the terms of the offices overlap, as District 2 and District 5 do. This resignation will create a vacancy in the office and vacancies in county offices are filled either by general election or gubernatorial appointment, depending on how much time remains in the unexpired term. Sterling Ivey, Governor Charlie Crist’s Press Secretary indicated:

The vacancy is determined by the resignation letter and if less than 28 months remain in the term, the Governor would fill the vacancy by appointment. The Governor’s Appointments Office would receive applications and screen/interview potential candidates. The Governor would appoint based on the applications received and reviewed from the Appointments Office.

Some quick background

Florida’s “Resign to Run” law says Hagan must submit a resignation letter with an effective date no later than the start of the term for which he intends to run. Also, he must submit the letter tens days before the start of the “qualifying period” during which time candidates for local office must submit official paperwork declaring their candidacy. Currently, the qualifying period runs from 71 days before the primary, until noon on the 67th day (99.016, F.S.). The primary for 2010 is scheduled to be held ten weeks before the general election (100.061, F.S.).

Election day, the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, will be November 2, 2010. This means the primary will be August 24th, with the qualifying period June 14th through 18th. That means Hagan’s letter must be submitted on or before June 4, 2010 and effective on or before November 2, 2010.

However, when he submits his letter is not the deciding factor. According to the Governor’s office, “the vacancy is determined by the effective date noted inside the resignation letter…not the date the letter is submitted.”

Article IV, Section 1, Paragraph (f) of the Florida Constitution reads:

When not otherwise provided for in this constitution, the governor shall fill by appointment any vacancy in state or county office for the remainder of the term of an appointive office, and for the remainder of the term of an elective office if less than twenty-eight months, otherwise until the first Tuesday after the first Monday following the next general election.

Hagan’s current term in District 2 runs until Election Day in 2012, which is November 6th. Twenty-eight months prior to that date would be July 6, 2010.

Two possibilities

There are two potential directions this could go, depending on the effective date of Hagan’s resignation.

Before July 6, 2010: If Hagan’s resignation is effective before July 6, 2010, then there would be a special election in 2010. The “remainder of the term” would be from July 6th through November 2nd, and the governor would appoint someone to fill the position for those four months. This is will not happen, as Hagan will want to serve as Commissioner as long as legally possible, which would be until Election Day or November 2nd.

After July 6, 2010: If Hagan’s resignation is effective after July 6, 2010, then there would not be a special election in 2010. Governor Crist would appoint a replacement to serve until November 6, 2012.

Therefore, unless Hagan decides to leave the Commission four months before election day, his replacement will be selected by the Governor.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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