UPDATE: Bernard concedes, Appeals court upholds Clemens victory in SD 27 primaryby Dara Kam | October 19th, 2012
UPDATE: State Rep. Mack Bernard has conceded the Senate District 27 race to Democratic primary winner Jeff Clemens.
“I spoke to Sen. Jeff Clemens and congratulated him on a hard-fought race and I look forward to helping make sure we re-elect the president of the U.S. and make sure we get as many Democrats elected during this election,” Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, said.
Bernard said he won’t appeal an appellate court decision upholding Clemens’s 17-vote margin in the August primary.
“It’s time for us to move forward and to move on to the November election,” he said.State Rep. Jeff Clemens remains the winner in a Democratic primary for Senate District 27 after a three-judge panel unanimously upheld a lower court decision today. Clemens, D-Lake Worth, won the hotly contested battle by a slim 17-vote margin, prompting state Rep. Mack Bernard to sue.
Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, had asked the 1st District Court of Appeals to overturn Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis’s ruling that agreed with the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board’s rejection of 40 absentee ballots. The signatures on the ballots did not match the voters’ signatures on file with elections officials, the board and Lewis decided.
The appellate judges rejected arguments by Bernard’s lawyer J.C. Planas that Lewis should have considered information other than the two signatures, including affidavits filed by 23 of the 40 voters. The court heard oral arguments in the case yesterday.
“The statute explicitly states that the circuit court may not review or consider any other evidence,” the judges wrote in a short opinion issued today.
Bernard, a West Palm Beach Democrat, can appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court.