Update 6:26p: Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate did not certify Teresa Greenfield for the Iowa 3rd Congressional District Democrat primary ballot after Attorney General Tom Miller advised him not to.
Here’s the statement from the Iowa Attorney General’s office:
“The statue envisions and requires that the original candidate fully qualify as a valid candidate. Theresa Greenfield never fully and properly qualified as a candidate since her first petition contained forgeries and her second petition did not have enough signatures,” Miller said in a statement.
“We also believe that when all relevant sections Chapter 43 are read together, the code requires someone other than the original candidate be the replacement.”
You can read his legal analysis here.
2nd Update: Here’s Greenfield’s statement in response.
This is a tough pill to swallow for all of our friends and supporters who worked so hard the past two weeks to put my name on the ballot, including what was really a difficult and courageous vote of support on Monday by the Third District Central Committee of the Iowa Democratic Party. But I accept the Attorney General’s decision.
As for me, I will never regret doing the right thing in pulling a petition with forged signatures. The outpouring since that moment proves that Iowans, regardless of where they live on the political spectrum, are tired of politicians who look away from what’s wrong and refuse to do what’s right,” she said.
Every single day I’ve been in this race, I have been incredibly blessed and energized by so many people who care about their neighbors and this state. With that same farm-girl grit Iowans have seen over the past few weeks, I will continue fighting for our hardworking families, our labor unions, our small businesses, our farms and our rural communities.
Original: Theresa Greenfield, the leading Democrat candidate running in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, withdrew her own nomination petitions after her campaign manager admitted that he forged some signatures. She then tried to collect 1,790 signatures required in a last minute effort that fell short.
The Iowa Secretary of State’s office confirmed last week that she fell short of the required signatures last week.
The Iowa 3rd Democrat Central Committee voted on Monday 36 to 31 to place her name on the ballot after the Greenfield campaign referenced an obscure Iowa law that I’m not certain applies to her situation. It reads:
If a person who has filed nomination papers with the state commissioner as a candidate in a primary election dies or withdraws up to the seventy-sixth day before the primary election, the appropriate convention or central committee of that person’s political party may designate one additional primary election candidate for the nomination that person was seeking, if the designation is submitted to the state commissioner in writing by 5:00 p.m. on the seventy-first day before the date of the primary election.
My interpretation of this would be that if there is no other candidate on the party primary ballot, that makes sense. The Iowa Attorney General’s office refused to weigh in on this and issued this statement via Assistant Attorney General Matt Gannon last week before the vote:
Our office will not be issuing a formal opinion regarding the application of sec. 43.23. The reasons for this are twofold: first, the office would decline to issue an opinion on any subject while there is a live controversy pending. Second, the Iowa Code provides a process for resolving challenges to the sufficiency of a nomination to the ballot in sec. 43.24. The Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Auditor are designated to hear and resolve such challenges. Because the Greenfield matter could potentially come under review by the Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor, it would be inappropriate to issue an opinion that pre-judges an issue that could be raised in that proceeding.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate also released a statement prior to the vote:
My staff and I have been notified by the Attorney General’s office that they will not be issuing a formal opinion regarding the application of Iowa Code section 43.23. This office will continue to analyze and research this matter in a careful and thorough manner, but at this time, I will also be reserving judgment on the applicability of Iowa Code section 43.23.
If the Third District Democratic Party makes the decision to hold a convention and nominates an additional candidate for the June 5 primary election, we would receive the convention certificate and affidavit of candidacy from the chosen candidate. The role of the Secretary of State’s office in this process is to take receipt of a convention certificate, which does not mean that the selected candidate’s placement on the ballot is guaranteed or above legal challenge.
Yesterday, the State Objection Panel consisting of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, State Auditor Mary Mosiman, and Attorney General Tom Miller. They dismissed the challenge to her nomination petitions since they had already been rejected. They did not render a decision about her convention certificate because that was not part of the challenge.
So Pate has until 5:00p today to certify her place on the ballot. Without legal cover from the Attorney General’s office, I don’t see him refusing to do that.
This is a legal challenge waiting to happen, but who would have standing in this case? I’m not sure Republicans would prior to the primary. I am doubtful even then that a judge would interfere once a vote has taken place. Democrats could always renominate her by convention even if they did.
The only way I see her being blocked is if a Democrat primary candidate would sue. Even then I’m certain there is time.
This is simply a mess.
This use (or abuse) of the law sets a horrible precedent. If Democrats did this for Greenfield, how are they going to refuse future candidates who may fail to get the required signatures needed?
Not to mention, what does this communicate to the candidates who did follow the rules?
This is not just limited to Democrats, a Republican or Libertarian candidate could also press to use this law in this way.
The Iowa Legislature should provide some clarity by revising the law next session.