Woman wins suit against state Republican Party



OVIEDO, Fla. - An Oviedo woman had to sue her own political party to take the position she'd been elected to by 17,000 voters.

Sixty-eight percent of the vote in her favor seemed like enough to give Kathryn Townsend the victory last fall, when she ran to represent Seminole County in the state Republican Party, or so she thought.

"About 10 days after the election, I got a letter from the state party saying, 'You won, but you didn't fulfill this little requirement that we have over here, so you're not going to be seated,'" said Townsend.

So she sued her own party.

The Republican Party claimed she broke the rules by not taking a loyalty oath before the election.

Former party chairman Jim Greer, set to go on trial on fraud charges, put the rule in place years ago. But a judge just found that since the rule was never filed with the , state or listed in the party bylaws, it is invalid. He reinstated Townsend to the seat she had won.

"I don't think anybody or any group should be allowed to totally ignore the vote of the people," said Townsend.

WFTV learned that at least six winning candidates from other counties were also stripped of their victories because of the loyalty oath requirement.

Townsend said she hopes her win in the courtroom will lead to change within her party.

"Jokingly, I said, 'Over 17,000 votes, over $10,000, five months and a court order, you, in fact, can be the Seminole County Republican state committeewoman,'" said Townsend.

Lawyers who represented the Republican Party of Florida in the lawsuit referred WFTV's questions about the lawsuit to party headquarters in Tallahassee. It was closed Monday because of the Martin Luther King holiday.