Cory Heidelberger digs up a Sept. 14 court order from Judge Robert A. Mandel ordering Secretary of State Jason Gant to appear in court on Oct. 3 and defend why Rep. Brian Gosch should stay on the ballot despite petition irregularities — or just kick Gosch off the ballot altogether.
Gosch notarized several of his own petitions. Critics point out that this is specifically disallowed by law and say his candidacy should be invalid. Supporters point to a long tradition of judges in South Dakota approving disputed nominating petitions that are “substantially in compliance” but have “minor technicalities” wrong — quotes from a lawsuit filed by South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf to force Gant to put two candidates BACK on the ballot.
Nesselhuf won. Now Gant is being called to court to presumably use Nesselhuf’s own argument in his defense.
Leading the charge by filing the lawsuit is former failed House candidate Stephanie Strong. This is also a switcheroo for her. In March Strong argued Gant should interpret her petitions to run for U.S. House leniently, despite technical errors; she lost. Now she’s insisting Gant hold Gosch to those same standards.
(This lawsuit has been in the works for more than a month; when I wrote about it in August, supporters refused to identify the person who would file the lawsuit, now revealed as Strong.)
What’s going to be the outcome here? Will Gosch, the Speaker Pro Tempore in the House and — if the House follows tradition — the next Speaker of the House, be kicked off the ballot? Or will the judge rule Gosch’s self-notarized petitions were “minor technicalities” and let him stay on?
Below, Judge Mandel’s court order and Strong’s affidavit: