South Dakota judge Kathleen Trandahl has apparently ruled for South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant and state Rep. Brian Gosch in a lawsuit over Gosch’s spot on the ballot.
Gosch, the presumptive next Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives, won a Republican primary and the November general election from District 32, in Rapid City.
But Stephanie Strong, a Rapid City businesswoman and activist, sued to try to force Gant to remove Gosch from the ballot.
There’s been no official release from the court, but Gosch’s attorney Sara Frankenstein said today that Trandahl ruled today in favor of Gosch and Gant in all counts.
Similarly, Strong released a statement after the apparent ruling criticizing Trandahl for letting Gant “off the hook” and giving “Gosch a pass.”
If true, the ruling would mean Gosch can take his seat in the Legislature as planned in January. Strong wanted Gosch disqualified as a candidate.
According to Frankenstein, Trandahl ruled that Strong missed the deadline to challenge Gosch’s nominating petitions, which Strong argued were invalid. Such a lawsuit should have been filed before South Dakota’s June primary, or at least before a mid-August deadline for candidate to be replaced on the ballot, Frankenstein said.
Strong filed her lawsuit in late August.
Gosch’s alleged violation, notarizing some of his own nominating petitions, isn’t necessarily disqualifying, Frankenstein said Trandahl ruled.
She said the judge clarified that Gosch had notarized the petition circulator’s signature, not his own signature, and ruled that the law didn’t say whether that was or was not legal.
Given that, the burden was apparently on Strong to prove that Gosch should be removed from the ballot, which she did not do, according to Frankenstein.
Before ruling on these points, Trandahl ruled that Gosch and the Pennington County Republican Party could intervene in the case, which was originally filed as Strong v. Gant.
Stay with Argus Leader Media for more updates on this case.