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Some local legislators endorse, but don't vote for presidential candidates

11:45 PM, Mar 8, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- They're paid to cast votes on behalf of all Floridians, but not all legislators always exercise their personal rights to vote.

A 10 News investigation into voting records of Florida's legislators and top elected officials revealed a handful of Republicans did not vote in January's Presidential Preference Primary (PPP).

While Gov. Rick Scott, the entire cabinet, and all of Florida's GOP members of Congress cast ballots, about 10 percent of the legislature did not.

Those from Greater Tampa Bay include:

  • Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Sarasota
  • Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness
  • Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring
  • Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland
  • Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland

Detert, who endorsed Mitt Romney and has been actively campaigning for him, said a busy schedule in Tallahassee was partly to blame for her voting absence.

"It was certainly an aberration and maybe the only election I've missed in 25 years," Detert said.

A public records request to the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections showed Detert had voted in every other major election the past five years.

Grimsley said - through an aide - that she didn't vote in the PPP because she simply had no preference among GOP contenders and didn't feel comfortable casting a ballot.  The representative said she plans to vote in November for the GOP nominee.  She also had voted in both the primary and general elections of 2008 and 2010.

Neither Dean nor Stargel, who also missed their first election in years, commented after multiple calls to their offices.

An aide for McKeel said the representative had indeed cast a ballot by mail, but the ballot was returned because of a "postal error" he didn't care to look into; presumably for not enough postage. 

ALSO READ: Occupy Tampa protesters' poor voting records

10 News also reached out to the following legislators from around the state who didn't register votes in the PPP:

  • Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda
  • Rep. George Moraitis Jr., R-Fort Lauderdale
  • Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City
  • Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Hialeah
  • Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami
  • Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka

No other representatives responded to requests for comment, but an aide to House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, called asking for names of whom the 10 News Investigators were reaching out to.  Presumably, the Speaker's office planned on getting messages to the representatives who didn't vote.

Trujillo, who endorsed Tim Pawlenty before endorsing before endorsing Herman Cain before he was named to Newt Gingrich's Florida leadership team, was recorded as having mailed in a ballot but not in time to be counted on Jan. 31. 

Van Zant mailed his ballot in to the Bradford Co. Supervisor of Elections' Office but it wasn't counted because Van Zant forgot to sign it.

Van Zant, Trujillo, Porter, Moraitis, Kreegel, and McKeel had all strong voting records previously, voting in both the primary and general elections of 2008 and 2010.

Oliva had voted in the 2010 elections as well as the 2008 general, but did not cast a vote in the 2008 primary election.

Gov. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater all cast votes in the 2012 PPP election.

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

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