Ron Corbett at the Clay County GOP booth at the Clay County Fair in 2017.

Update 4/4/18: Corbett’s hearing was held on Tuesday, April 3 in Polk County. KCRG reports.

On Tuesday, Polk District Judge David May heard the arguments for and against putting Corbett back on the Republican ballot for the June 5th primary.

In court, Corbett’s attorneys argued that Corbett’s election staff had crossed out some valid signatures in the mistaken belief there was a problem.

Attorney Pat Sealey told the judge, “a substantial candidate like Ron Corbett deserves to be on the ballot.”

But Mark Weinhardt, an attorney representing the election board, said it comes down to a simple concept. Rules are rules. And if election rules say Corbett needed 4,005 signatures for a valid petition then the decision should be clear.

“Rules that apply to candidates for Governor were not met by Corbett,” he said.

WOI-TV reports that he also claimed that Reynolds’ campaign was involved and called on them to release their communication.

“I think it’s important that we establish a little motive and intent from the other side,” Corbett said. “I think the governor and the governor’s campaign is involved with this and I’m requesting that the governor release all communications from her campaign.”

The attorneys for the state argued that rules are rules, and Corbett should have been prepared.

Original: Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon said he would challenge the State Objection Panel’s decision on Tuesday to remove him from the Iowa Republican Gubernatorial Primary ballot. Yesterday’s decision leaves Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds uncontested for the Republican nomination.

Corbett said they would challenge the decision based on the panel’s decision not to count signatures that the campaign had crossed off. Corbett’s petitions were challenged by Republican activist Craig Robinson. Robinson said Corbett’s nomination petitions with duplicate signatures left with fewer than the 4,005 signatures needed to be on the ballot. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and State Auditor Mary Mosiman voted to uphold the challenge. Attorney General of Iowa Tom Miller voted to reject the challenge.

Corbett attacked the Republican establishment.

“Normally, the challenge comes from the opposing party, it was from the Republican establishment,” he told reporters. “You see the establishment doesn’t take too kindly when someone tries to threaten their power.”

Corbett said when he announced that he would run he said he would not be an establishment candidate.

“Now the establishment can be very powerful, they’re not a very friendly group from time to time when their power is threatened. They would probably just as soon hogtie you and throw you in a ditch, but I’m not afraid of them,” he said.

“This campaign has never been about supporting the establishment or special interest groups. So the die has been cast for what side of the aisle I’ll be on. I’m a Republican, but I’m not an establishment Republican, I’m not a candidate of the special interest groups, and I’m not the candidate of the donor class – that’s Governor Reynolds,” Corbett asserted.

Responding to the criticism that he did not turn in more signatures, his campaign turned in less than 4100 signatures, he said that it would not have mattered.

“I don’t think it would have mattered if we filed 150 more, 500 more, 1000 more, or 5000 more. You see they’ve been out to get me since I’ve announced. And they would have found some other tactic that wasn’t throwing me off the ballot to knock my campaign,” he accused.

Several active Republican county party activists told Caffeinated Thoughts that what happened was all about his campaign’s disorganization.

“It would have helped if his campaign hadn’t waited his campaign doesn’t wait until the last minute before caucuses to send petitions to county chairs. Some counties set a deadline to get your materials to them so they don’t have to scramble at the last minute for a campaign they aren’t responsible for. That’s reasonable. They were disorganized. They had months and months and months to get signatures and failed. They didn’t plan well and they didn’t execute well,” Dane Nealson, a Nevada city councilman, and former Story County GOP chair.

Bethany Gates told Caffeinated Thoughts said that there were people who declined to sign his petitions because they did not like him as a candidate. Gates has served as the co-chair and secretary for the Benton County Republican Party. She also served on the Iowa GOP State Central Committee for a brief time.

“At my local precinct caucus, people didn’t want him on the ballot so they chose not to sign his petition. We are a half hour from Cedar Rapids, and it sounded like this was a protest against his leadership there and not a ‘circle the wagons’ thing. I was asked to and did collect, signatures for a couple of candidates,” she said.

“This is the first year that I had several people decline to sign (even upon hearing that they were not pledging to support the candidate at the polls). What I was told several times is that people are just tired of all the politicians and didn’t even want to hear about it,” Gates shared.

She echoed Nealson’s complaint about Corbett’s campaign organization.

“Corbett’s people had no communication with our county whatsoever. The other candidates for state and federal offices were talking with the county officers, making sure signatures were coming in, and recruiting help if we needed more. Corbett’s campaign was silent so if he was low in our county, we had no idea,” Gates added.

Corbett said that he hoped a judge would hear his challenge as early as next week. He said that an unfavorable decision would mark the end of his campaign as he would not run as an independent.

Watch his press conference below:

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