Johnson will be placed on November ballot
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
A South Dakota judge has ruled that Charlie Johnson of rural Madison is eligible to be a Democratic candidate for the District 8 Senate race and can be placed on the November ballot.|
Johnson's petition was filed by the March deadline and contained sufficient signatures, but the ballot had been rejected by South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant because it stated that the signers on the petition were from Lake County instead of from District 8, which includes three other counties.
Circuit Judge Mark Barnett of Pierre ruled Monday (today) that Johnson's petition substantially complied with legal requirements because another line on the petition says Johnson is running for the Senate in District 8.
Johnson, who did not attend Monday's hearing, said he is pleased and happy with the judge's decision and his recognition that he is a legitimate candidate for state Senate.
"I look forward to the campaign and giving the voters a viable candidate," Johnson said.
Johnson will face Republican Russell Olson of Madison for the District 8 Senate seat.
"It gives the electoral process a good balancing act by having two candidates out there discussing the issues," Johnson said.
Johnson said his campaign theme will focus on the youth of South Dakota and the future.
"If we don't address that as a major macro issue, little else matters in the state Legislature," he said.
Gant said that he does not know whether he will appeal Barnett's ruling to the state Supreme Court.
The South Dakota Democratic Party appealed the rejection of Johnson's petition and a petition filed by District 20 House candidate David Mitchell. A hearing in Mitchell's case is set for Friday. Mitchell failed to fill in one of the blanks that declares his political party. A candidate's party affiliation is listed in three places on the petition.
Ben Nesselhuf, chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party, was also happy with the judge's decision Monday.
"I'm very pleased that the judge read the law as we did," he said, "that Charlie did everything that was necessary to be a candidate for the state Senate and the judge recognized that."
Nesselhuf said he is hoping for a similar outcome in Friday's hearing. Since invalidating Mitchell's petition, Nesselhuf said, the Secretary of State's office has added reasons for tossing the petition, including questioning the fact that Mitchell notarized the circulator's signature on the back of the petition. Nesselhuf said this is a common, allowable practice.
These two petitions were among 12 filed by Democratic candidates that were rejected by the Secretary of State's office this spring "over very technical reasons." Nesselhuf said most were able to re-circulate the petitions to correct those technicalities.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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