Top Florida Democrats sounded the alarm Friday over what they see as improper interference by Gov. Rick Scott in U.S. Rep. Allen West's attempt to hold onto his congressional seat.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, flatly asserted in a statement that the Republican governor is attempting to interfere in the contest between Republican West and Democrat Patrick Murphy.
A spokesman for Scott's secretary of state denied the Democrats' assertions.
Unofficial results show Murphy as the winner, but the West campaign has asserted that counting irregularities in St. Lucie County – part of the 19 th Congressional District, along with northern Palm Beach and Martin counties – make the results suspect.
Scott and West have enjoyed cordial relations. Both elected in 2010 with strong support from members of the tea party, West has frequently praised the governor since they took office.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee, ordered a three-member team – both the Democratic and Republican sides call them "auditors" – from his Division of Elections to St. Lucie County this week.
"In a clear effort to overturn an election result after having lost at the ballot box, Allen West has now run to Governor Rick Scott to needlessly interfere with and politicize a non-partisan election process," Wasserman Schultz said.
More from Wasserman Schultz:
"All votes in this election were counted fairly and accurately, and Allen West has lost beyond the mandatory recount range. Having Governor Scott intervene is outrageous and inappropriate. After disenfranchising Florida voters by cutting down early voting days and creating extraordinarily long lines at the polls, Governor Scott is now trying to blatantly overturn an election result he disagreed with and undermine Gertrude Walker, a three-decade veteran of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office. Governor Scott needs to remove himself from this process immediately."
Chris Cate, spokesman for Detzner, responded:
Claims that there is any interference by the state in this election are wholly inaccurate and unhelpful to the voters who need to know their votes have been counted accurately. We have a responsibility to ensure Florida's election laws are interpreted and enforced properly, and our involvement in St. Lucie County has only been observational with the purpose of protecting the voice of the voters and ensuring fair elections were conducted in all of the St. Lucie County races, not just the highest profile contests.
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D- Miramar, also condemned what he said was "Governor Rick Scott's attempt to undermine and pressure St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker – just because he would prefer to keep Allen West in Congress – is yet another blatant display of his willingness to disregard the rule of law for political gain."
More from Hastings:
"It was Governor Scott who cut early voting hours, created long lines during early voting, and imposed unprecedented burdens on county election offices. Despite his repeated efforts to disenfranchise voters, the people of Florida's 18 th district chose Patrick Murphy to represent them in Washington, and by a margin that does not necessitate a recount.
"Governor Scott's efforts to interfere with a local official who has decades of experience and overturn an election conducted in full accordance with the law are a gross misuse of power and an unwarranted intrusion into the electoral process that should cease immediately."