TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is letting a congressional candidate put the name of his web address on the ballot.
Why? Because Eddie Gonzalez went before a Miami-Dade judge this past January and had his name legally changed to "VoteforEddie.com."
A spokesman for the Florida Department of State said Wednesday that officials have no choice because a judge granted the name change request just days after election officials told him he could not use any nicknames.
"As a ministerial office, we have no authority to not permit his legal name to appear on the ballot," said the spokesman, Chris Cate.
VoteforEddie.com, who lists a Hialeah address, is an independent candidate running for a seat in the 25th Congressional District, which includes parts of Broward, Collier and Miami-Dade counties. He is challenging five-term U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami.
When reached by phone, the independent candidate said he took the unusual step of changing his name as an effort to draw attention to his bid because he will not receive any help from political parties.
"Since I'm not under the wings or good graces of both political parties, I had to find a different way to get my message out there," he said.
Campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Diaz-Balart had raised about $608,400 as of March 31, compared to about $2,400 for Eddie for Congress.
He also said he wanted to make sure that Diaz-Balart had an opponent during this year's general election. Diaz-Balart was re-elected without opposition in 2010.
A spokesman for Diaz-Balart's campaign declined to comment Wednesday on Gonzalez changing his name to VoteforEddie.com.
Besides running for Congress, the candidate says on his website that he was born in 1980 to Cuban immigrants, attends college and is working on a business degree. He says he represents "the working class" and that he's running as an independent because people are upset with both parties for gridlock in Washington D.C. Under the "About Me" section of his website, though, he's still identified as Eddie Gonzalez.
His website includes a video where he talks about the need to end the nation's dependence on foreign oil and concludes: "I am VoteforEddie.com and I approve this message."
Election records show that VoteforEddie.com has already gathered enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. State officials will finalize this year's ballot next week.
On the net: http://www.voteforeddie.com
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