In a stunning development tonight, the Arizona Supreme Court removed Kim Owens from the ballot for the Corporation Commission. This leaves the GOP with only two candidates for the three Commissioner seats up for election.
The four Justices* said that Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason erred in allowing Owens to resurrect 172 signatures that County Recorders had found to be invalid. The Justices said the evidence presented did not support the ruling.
“The only evidence offered by Owens to rehabilitate the signatures that were invalidated because the signer was not registered to vote was the “GOP Data Center” records. However, Owens failed to make the Data Center records available, nor were the records offered or received into evidence. Additionally, there was no testimony establishing that either the Data Center records or Owen’s testimony about the records constituted reliable, competent evidence for the court to consider. Accordingly, there was no reasonable evidence to support the trial court’s finding that the candidate rehabilitated a sufficient number of signatures to remain on the ballot.”
Judge Thomason had determined Owens had gathered 8 more valid signatures than the number needed to be placed on the August 4 primary ballot. The Supreme Court’s decision on the resurrection issue left Owens 164 short.
Owens had been challenged from the left and from the right, and her removal leaves the Republicans short of a full slate of candidates for the Corporation Commission. Only current Commissioner Lea Marquez Peterson and candidate Eric Sloan – who survived an appeal two days ago – remain. Current Commissioner Boyd Dunn was removed by the Supreme Court yesterday, David Farnsworth withdrew his candidacy after being challenged, and Nick Myers was removed by a judge.
Persons interested in running as a write-in for the August 4 Republican primary election will have the next several weeks to file. The candidates who were removed from the ballot cannot try again as a write-in. A write-in will have to get at least the number of votes that they would have had to collect signatures; in this case, over 6,663.
For more details and to read the trial judge and the Supreme Court’s Orders, please visit Arizona’s Law, where this article was first posted by Paul Weich.
*These expedited elections cases are decided by a panel of four of the seven Justices. This case was considered by Justice Gould, Justice Lopez, Justice Beene, and Justice Montgomery. (Justice Clint Bolick recused himself from being on the panel because Owens was represented by the attorneys who represented his wife in her challenge/appeal. However, we do not know if he would have been selected for the panel.)