Of course, high drama ensued as Scott Fistler's Cesar Chavez strategy played out... and it culminated in what they call in show biz, "exit stage left."
Apparently, however, all the claims in the lawsuit against Fistler, such as the fact that he circulated petitions as a Democrat before he actually changed his voter registration to Democrat, that he changed his name to fool voters, and especially the fact that he used the wrong size paper for some of the signatures he submitted, all came to naught. According to the Arizona Republic,
A judge ruled Tuesday that Cesar Chavez, the former Republican who changed his name from Scott Fistler, will be removed from the primary ballot in the 7th Congressional District because hundreds of his signatures were invalid. [...]
Chavez accused political competitors of targeting him. Ruben Gallego and Mary Rose Wilcox are considered the frontrunners.
"I don't know why. I try to play by the rules," he said. "They wanted to knock me off the ballot. It was simply a strategic, heartless maneuver made by my opposition." [...]
[Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John] Rea ruled that 711 of Chavez's 1,455 signatures, or about 48 percent, were invalid because the signers were not registered to vote, did not live in the district or were not Democrats or independents.
The ruling put Chavez's nomination 295 signatures below the 1,039 requirement to make the ballot.Because the Secretary of State's office does NOT verify the signatures on nominating petitions, the only available enforcement mechanism to ensure somebody doesn't cheat to get on the ballot is for volunteers to check signatures and file a lawsuit. For Scott Fistler, that's that. And we move on. Well, technically, he can appeal but that doesn't seem likely in this situation. However, IF Rea had disqualified Fistler for some of the reasons claimed in the lawsuit, there may have been the possibility of a successful appeal.
But if the candidate doesn't get enough valid signatures from registered voters living in the district, that's the end of it.
According to the Secretary of State, 20 lawsuits were filed challenging 19 candidate nominations. Of those, only eight remain unresolved and therefore pending hearings in court.
Today's updates, besides Fistler, include:
- Don "Shoot 'em up" Shooter's lawsuit failed. The judge ruled against Shooter. Therefore, Republican Toby Farmer will be on the ballot for the LD13 GOP senate nomination. To me, this is no surprise. Cathi Herrod's husband was the judge in this case and Farmer's website uses the code words she loves. He seems to have scrubbed the site of some of them, but still invokes "family values" which is code for opposition to same sex marriage and to a woman's sovereignty over her own body and health care decisions.
- Bryan Hackbarth, Republican LD21 candidate for state representative, lost the lawsuits (both of them) challenging him. He's OFF the ballot.
- Sharon Thomas, Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, will be ON the ballot as the case against her was dismissed.
That leaves 8 unresolved, but probably only 7 because Pima County Democrats dropped their challenge to Ethan Orr's candidacy. Apparently, official word had not yet reached the SOS.
- Justin Henry, LD20 Republican for state senate (primary against Yee)
- Scott Ryan, LD18 Independent for state house (general election against Republicans and one Democrat)
- Barry Hess, Libertarian for governor (probably being targeted by the AZ GOP itself for fear that he may dilute opposition to Democrat Fred DuVal)
- Chuck Wooten, Republican for CD2 (in the primary against Martha McSally and Shelley Kais)
- Carlyle Begay, Democrat (Republican in Democratic veneer?) for LD7 state senate; challenge filed by attorney Tom Ryan who has maintained since Begay was appointed last summer to succeed Jack Jackson Jr. that Begay is not a lawful resident of LD7.
- Jennifer Knepfler, Libertarian for LD26 state senate. Targeted by an LD26 Republican voter (Eric Orton) apparently on behalf of Independent Dale Eames, because Knepfler will likely dilute the opposition vote to incumbent Democrat Ed Ableser.
- Erminie Zarra, Republican for LD29 state house, targeted by the only other LD29 Republican seeking a seat from that district.
In (indirectly) related High Drama, LD8 House incumbent Republicans Frank Pratt and T.J. Shope drew the wrath of a Pinal County Tea Party group on Monday. According to the Yellow Sheet Report (paywall), primary election opponents Darla DeWald and Wayne Bachmann,
...set up a broom and a mop on the stage to represent the two incumbents, which Bachmann proceeded to address á la Clint Eastwood at the 2012 RNC convention. “This is my third debate that neither one of them has showed up for, so I decided to bring them,” Dawald said in her opening statement to the crowd of about 20 people. The two mostly trashed Shope and Pratt for their support of Medicaid expansion, and repeatedly said that the pair voted for it in order to get bribes from the hospital and health care industry. (emphasis mine)Further, Bachmann (no word as to whether he's related at all to Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann)
Bachmann and Dawald also expressed support for allowing guns in schools...Bachmann said that, when he was a kid, he would bring a new rifle to school and show it to his friends. “It’s ridiculous that you can’t do that today,” he said.
LD8, was the one Cantelme most wanted changed in the Harris case. Most recently reported voter reg numbers in LD8 are 28,410 Democrats, 23,824 Republican, 29,925 Libertarian & Other. Or, 34.6 percent D, 29.0 percent R, 36.4 percent L & O. So, if Dewald and Bachmann succeed in the primary, chances are very good that Carmen Casillas, the only Democrat currently seeking a house seat in that district, can win. That, of course, would still hypothetically elevate one of the Tea Party candidates in to the house.
Given that the crowd was only "about 20" strong, I'd be hard pressed to say that the Tea Party is alive and well in Arizona... or at least in Pinal County.
More court hearings are scheduled for today (Wednesday) and Thursday.