MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton grab most of the political headlines. However, there is a local race you should know more about as Election Day draws near.
A high schooler is mounting a “write-in” campaign against a long-time incumbent in a race for Martin County commissioner.
And that high schooler is all of a sudden getting a lot of attention.
While 18-year-old Chase Lurgio is busy finishing his last high school class ever, he’s already set his sights on bigger things.
“I’ve always been interested in politics and my friends were like you should do it,” said Lurgio.
That’s why the Jensen Beach resident says he decided to run for Martin County Commission District 1.
“I did a little research and saw the write-in was free, so I went and signed up and I’m here now.”
Sounds easy, right?
In fact, for write in candidates, they do not need to get petitions signed or pay any fees.
All Lurgio had to do was fill out some paperwork. If it’s done right and on time, by law, the supervisor of elections is require to qualify the candidate.
What Lurio didn’t anticipate was the impact his write-in campaign would have on the two other candidates in the GOP primary.
“It immediately closed the County Commission District 1 race down to only republican voters because we had two republican candidates,” explained Vicki Davis, Martin County’s Supervisor of Elections.
Before Lurgio joined the race, voters of any party could vote because only two republicans were in the race. However, Lurgio is a “write-in candidate” and that guaranteed a race in the November election meaning only Republicans could vote in the primary.
Incumbent Doug Smith beat challenger Jacqui Thurlow-Lippicsh by about 600 votes.
But Voters like Ellen Gittin didn’t like Lurgio’s sudden candidacy, because she says many democrats and independents wanted to vote for Thurlow-Lippisch and ultimately weren’t able to.
“She was the best candidate and she was the one that was going to pay attention to what we had an interest in,” said Gittin.
Now, she and others are supporting Lurgio for two reasons: He wants to protect the St. Lucie River and they want to protest this “write-in candidate” loophole in the law.
“He has a concern and a care for our river that I don’t think anyone gave him credit for,” said Gitten.
As for Lurgio, he said at first he just wanted his name out there, but now he’s in it to win it.
“If I win, I’d love to serve and I’m disappointed in the waterways and how they are and I think a lot of people are,” he said.
According to the Supervisor of Elections only the state legislature can change the write-in rules.
Incumbent Doug Smith will be the candidate who’s name will appear on the November ballot. Smith says he been through several election cycles and he takes each one at a time.