A three-member state panel has dismissed objections to U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer’s petitions to qualify for the Democratic Party Primary in June. Alan Ostergren, an attorney for national Republicans, may go to court to challenge that decision.
“I think it’s quite clear from watching everything that happened today if the rules that were applied this morning were applied after lunch, Abby Finkenauer would not have qualified for the ballot,” Ostergren told reporters.
Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, sat out the morning session as the State Objection Panel reviewed challenges to signatures on Miller’s own nominating petitions. Republican Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg sat in for Miller on the three-member panel. Gregg voted with Paul Pate, the Republican secretary of state, to deny signatures from people who did not write down their apartment or dorm room number or filled out the date section incorrectly.
In the afternoon, Miller and the Democratic state auditor voted to allow signatures that lacked that information. Miller said that information isn’t required in the “hard core” rules for petition signatures.
“Here around this table we are focusing on some very small set of signatures and, in my view, sort of playing a gotcha routine,” Miller said.
Secretary of State Paul Pate disagrees and said the signatures with inconsistencies should have been subtracted — meaning Finkenauer shouldn’t qualify for the ballot.
“If you’re running for something as high as the U.S. senate or governor or any other office, you need to make sure you’re doing all the detail work,” Pate said.
A Republican who had filed nominating petitions to run against G-O-P Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks also faced review of his documents, but announced his withdrawal from the race today. The Objection Panel voted 2-1 to reject challenges to a handful of signatures on State Representative Jeff Shipley’s nominating forms and let the Republican from Fairfield to face off against another Republican incumbent in June.
That decision on Shipley’s candidacy may be challenged in court, on the same grounds as the decision that puts Finkenauer on the June Primary ballot. Ballots must be set within about 10 days, so there’s a tight timeline if there’s an appeal for court intervention.