HIAWATHA, Iowa (AP) — Ron Corbett says he's filing a legal challenge against an elections panel's ruling that booted him off the Republican primary ballot for governor.
Corbett told reporters Wednesday in Hiawatha he wants a judge in Polk County district court to review his case. A campaign spokesman later said Corbett filed an administrative review, though documentation was not immediately available.
A three-person panel determined Tuesday that Corbett failed to submit enough signatures from the public to qualify to run against Gov. Kim Reynolds. The decision means Reynolds will not have a primary challenger.
Corbett, a former Cedar Rapids mayor, initially turned in enough signatures to reach the 4,005-signature threshold needed to run. Duplicative signatures threw that requirement into question, and the elections panel rejected Corbett's request to add back signatures that had been crossed off the paperwork.
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Ron Corbett, the sole Republican who was challenging Gov. Kim Reynolds in Iowa's gubernatorial race, failed to qualify for the primary ballot because he didn't collect enough valid signatures from the public, an elections panel concluded Tuesday.
The decision means Reynolds will not have a GOP primary challenger, allowing her to focus on the November general election. Six Democrats and two libertarians also remain in the gubernatorial race. They'll face off in the June 5 primary for a chance against Reynolds.
Corbett said he'll consider legal options, but he believes they're limited. Corbett noted there are only a few weeks before the primary and local elections officials will soon begin printing ballots.
"It doesn't look very promising," he said. "The path isn't very wide."
Corbett didn't turn in enough nomination petition signatures to be on the ballot after some names he submitted this month were determined to be duplicative. His attorneys then failed to argue to the State Objection Panel that signatures that had initially been crossed off from submitted paperwork should still count.
The three-person panel also turned down other technical challenges by Corbett's attorneys aimed at reaching the required 4,005-signature threshold to stay on the statewide ballot. Patrick Sealey, one of those attorneys, stressed that some of the rejected petition signatures were legitimate names that the campaign crossed off by mistake. He questioned the implications of the panel's decision.
"I have tremendous problems that we deny the citizens of Iowa the right to make that choice, that three people deny the citizens of Iowa to make that choice," he said.
The panel is made up of Secretary of State Paul Pate, State Auditor Mary Mosiman and Attorney General Tom Miller. Pate and Mosiman are Republicans and Miller is a Democrat, though their party affiliation is not supposed to affect how they rule.
The panel spent the most time deciding whether crossed off signatures from Corbett's campaign should count. Pate, the state's top elections official, didn't think so.
"Our office cannot be mind readers. If they're stricken off, they're stricken off," Pate said. Mosiman agreed, and believed that adding back the signatures would wrongfully alter the paperwork.
Pate stressed the importance of campaigns submitting more than the minimum signatures to ensure they can qualify for elections ballots.
In the end, the panel agreed that Corbett's campaign had turned in 3,997 signatures, just eight short. The panel voted 2-1 to reject Corbett qualifying to be on the ballot. Miller voted against the objection.
A Republican strategist, Craig Robinson, had pointed out in a formal challenge earlier this month that Corbett's campaign had submitted enough duplicative signatures to throw his candidacy into question. Corbett said Robinson's challenge was politically driven, a claim Robinson denied.
Corbett, the former Cedar Rapids mayor and ex-Iowa House speaker, emerged last year as the only Republican to announce a challenge against Reynolds. He faced an uphill battle with Reynolds, who had raised millions of dollars more for her campaign. Records show Corbett raised more than $800,000 last year.
Reynolds, who formally launched her gubernatorial campaign earlier this month, is serving the final term of Gov. Terry Branstad, who left the job last May to become U.S. ambassador to China.
The elections panel, which met for several hours and reviewed multiple candidacy challenges, also booted a GOP primary challenger in Iowa's 2nd congressional district over not enough valid signatures. A Republican challenger was also kicked out of an Iowa House race because he was registered as a Democrat when he collected signatures for the ballot. The panel dismissed challenges against Reynolds and U.S. Reps. David Young and Steve King.
The panel did not issue a ruling on whether Theresa Greenfield, a candidate in Iowa's 3rd congressional district, should remain on the ballot. Greenfield's candidacy has been questioned because of issues over her signatures.