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The election may be decided, but the fight between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and ousted Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes appears to have only just begun.
In the latest chapter of the ongoing saga, Peter Antonacci was sworn in on Monday to replace Snipes after Scott suspended her last week for “misfeasance, incompetence, neglect of duty” following a month of harsh criticism over Snipes’ mistakes during a recount of three statewide races in November. In one of those races, Scott – whose term in the governor’s house ends in January – defeated incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
While Snipes has made no public statements about Antonacci taking over her job for the final two years of her term, she does not appear to be going down without a fight.
Snipes had originally said she was resigning from her elected post as of January 4, but after Scott suspended her last Friday, she rescinded her resignation and said she has no plans to step down. During a press conference on Saturday, a lawyer representing Snipes, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, accused Scott of holding her client to an unfair standard and denied the governor’s accusations of any wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of Snipes.
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“We believe these actions are malicious,” Norris-Weeks said, according to the New York Times, and “are done for the purposes of embarrassing Dr. Snipes — embarrassing her and tarnishing her record.”
In what dredged up memories of the 2000 presidential election that saw George W. Bush ultimately take the White House from former Vice President Al Gore, Florida was once again cast into the national spotlight in November thanks to a contentious recount.
Liberal critics complained of what they called a poorly designed ballot in a Democratic stronghold in Florida that could have contributed to Sen. Nelson’s loss, while Republicans – including President Trump – slammed Snipes for sloppy work and blasted her for any mistake, such as mixing invalid provisional ballots with valid ones, missing a recount filing deadline by two minutes and misplacing 2,040 ballots during the recount process.
“I have taken responsibility for every act in this office, good, bad or indifferent,” Snipes said last month.
By the end of the day on Monday, Snipes name had been replaced by Antonacci’s on top of the Florida election’s website.
Antonacci, who has no elections experience, has been close to Scott for years and has been employed by the outgoing governor for posts as Palm Beach County’s state attorney, South Florida Water Management District executive director and head of the business-recruitment agency Enterprise Florida.
The new supervisor of elections spent most of Monday swearing in new staff and familiarizing himself with election operations.
“Elections are a lot more complex than people believe,” Antonacci told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’m trying to evaluate the whole system and the people in it.”