Sham candidates are influencing outcomes in Florida elections. And it’s “not necessarily illegal.” Running sham candidates, or “ballot management,” is the practice of strategically running a no party affiliation (NPA) or third-party candidate not to win, but to siphon votes from a competitor. The 2020 race for Florida Senate District 37 illustrates the issue.
Incumbent Democratic state senator José Javier Rodríguez ran for reelection to his seat representing Florida’s Senate District 37, which he first won in 2016. His competitors were Republican Ileana Garcia and NPA candidate Alex Rodriguez— an auto parts dealer who conveniently shared the same last name as José Javier Rodríguez. Suspiciously, Alex Rodriquez did not appear to want to win the election, failing to campaign, speak publicly, or otherwise engage with voters. By itself, it’s possible Alex Rodriquez was someone who simply wanted to throw his hat into the ring, but perhaps lacked the will or resources for a full-throated campaign. Unfortunately, that was not the case.