From Twin Cities.com
Minnesota Democrats have sued to get Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s name removed from the state’s general election ballots.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s Thursday lawsuit claims the Minnesota Republican Party failed to nominate its presidential electors, the people who cast the state’s 10 electoral college votes, in accordance with state law. Keith Downey, the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, said last month that the party called a special meeting to approve alternative electors because it had previously neglected to do so.
The suit, which was filed directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court, adds a new level of chaos to an already strange election season. It could cause the parties to spend some of the rushed final eight weeks of the election fighting in court, distracting from other campaigning. While the suit is a technical one, if successful, it could affect the entire presidential election.
“It is incumbent upon political parties to follow the rules binding our elections and in this instance it does not appear that the Minnesota Republican Party did so,” said Ken Martin, the chair of the DFL Party. The DFL said last month that it did not plan to sue over the issue.
Downey did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday night. Last month, Downey said he was not aware “that the secretary of state wouldn’t place our candidates on the ballot, even though that paperwork was submitted completely, until the electors were finalized” until the week before the filings were due. He said the party had previously submitted what it had thought was the necessary paperwork a month earlier.
To finish the process, the party called an executive committee meeting to select alternative electors to join the 10 electors it had nominated at its state convention in May. Then it submitted the final paperwork, and Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon accepted the filing and added Trump and vice presidential candidate Mike Pence as choices in the Nov. 8 election.
The petition says that Simon, a Democrat, should not have accepted the Republican Party’s petition to get Trump on the ballot.
The state law on the issue says “presidential electors and alternates for the major political parties of this state shall be nominated by delegate conventions called.” The DFL contends the electors were not nominated at a delegate convention.
Ryan Furlong, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said it does not comment on pending litigation.
The Trump campaign’s Minnesota spokesman Andy Post said it had no immediate comment but was reviewing the suit.
The state Supreme Court in the past has handled election matters expeditiously and decided them quickly. The DFL’s suit was filed late Thursday.
The DFL is represented by attorneys from the Minneapolis-based law firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen and the Washington-based Perkins Coie firm, both of which represented Democrats in both Sen. Al Franken’s 2008-09 recount and court case and Gov. Mark Dayton’s 2010 recount. Marc Elias, one of the Perkins Coie attorneys on the petition, has also been Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s general counsel.
David Lillehaug, who also worked on the recounts with the Perkins Coie attorneys, has since become a Minnesota Supreme Court justice.
Elias said via Twitter on Thursday night that he does not see that as a conflict because it has been five years since they worked together and on very different issues.
The petition’s filing was first reported via Twitter by longtime Minnesota political operative and writer Michael Brodkorb.
Minnesota Republicans have always been stupid. Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, and Tom Emmer are the perfect examples. I am proud to call myself a Minnesota Democrat and have voted for Mark Dayton, Walter Mondale (when he replaced the late Paul Wellstone in the 2002 Senate race), Amy Klobuchar, and Al Franken. And I would have voted for Paul if he hadn't died in that plane crash.