Ron Corbett (file photo)

Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett today said he’s confident a judge will be impartial as he reviews Corbett’s bid to qualify for the Iowa GOP’s Primary ballot. However, Corbett accused Iowa Republicans involved in an effort to end his campaign for governor before the June primary are being paid by what Corbett calls “dark money” groups.

“What is their intent? And I don’t believe they’re acting alone,” Corbett said. “I think the governor and the governor’s campaign is involved with this.”

Last week, a state panel ruled Corbett was eight signatures short on his nominating petitions and would not be listed as a Republican challenger of Governor Kim Reynolds. Today, a judge held a hearing in Polk County District Court and promised to rule soon on whether Corbett qualifies for the June Primary ballot.

Corbett is calling on the governor’s campaign to reveal any communications it had with those involved in the challenge of his nominating petitions.

“See, I believed from day one that this thing smelled fishy,” Corbett told reporters today.

Craig Robinson, the former Iowa GOP political director who challenged Corbett’s nominating paperwork,  went on Twitter to say he was motivated to do so “to expose how weak” Corbett’s campaign was. Robinson accused Corbett of trying to blame others for his own inadequacies as a candidate.

Corbett is arguing in court that valid signatures that had been crossed off on his nominating petitions should be counted and, if they are, he has more than enough signatures to qualify as a primary candidate. An attorney for the Iowa Secretary of State’s office told the judge you can’t cash a bank check with a crossed out signature, so those crossed out petition signatures shouldn’t be counted either.

Corbett has said he’ll quit the campaign if the judge rules against him.

“I guess I’m down for the count and I’m on the canvas and we’re in the 10-count and the judge is going to decide whether I’m going to be saved by the bell or not and if I’m saved by the bell, then we’ll live on to fight another day,” Corbett said. “And if I’m not, I guess I’ll just grab my gym bag and head for the locker room.”

Corbett is a former state legislator who once served as the speaker of the Iowa House. He served two terms as mayor of Cedar Rapids, but did not seek reelection last year.

(Additional reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Katarina Sostaric)