St. Paul, MN (January 3, 2020) -- As reported by CNN, the only name appering on Minnesota’s March 3, 2020, primary ballots is that of “Donald J. Trump.” On December 13, 2019, Trump’s most well-financed Republican challenger, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to print his name on those ballots as well. Two business days later, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Gildea expedited the matter and ordered that “Petitioners, respondent Simon, the Republican Party of Minnesota, and, if he chooses to do so, President Donald J. Trump, shall file briefs” by December 31, 2019. Three other central committees were also invited to participate. De La Fuente’s brief, the response of Secretary Steve Simon, and a filing by the Minnesota DFL were filed on time.
The Republican Party Of Minnesota did not submit anything to the high court, nor did President Trump.
These written submissions prepare the Minnesota Supreme Court for oral arguments next week on January 9, 2020, at 10 a.m. in Minnesota’s State Capitol Courtroom. In an interview with KARE 11, De La Fuente’s attorney Erick Kaardal said, “We’re hoping to get a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court later that day.” As reported by NewsMax, the challenge is to Minnesota’s election laws that permit party chairpersons to decide who is (and who is not) on the primary ballots. The state’s DFL chairman submitted a list of 15 names to be printed on its Super Tuesday ballot, and KMSP Fox 9 reports at least three candidates were left off prompting Kaardal to declare both major party ballots unconstitutional: “This is nationally embarrassing because we can’t even run a presidential primary correctly.” In an interview with MPR, Kaardal said, “It’s absurd — legally absurd, culturally absurd. It makes the state look really stupid.”
In a Start Tribune article, it was reported the Secretary moved the high court to settle the matter “within the first few days of January” or Minnesota’s early voting scheduled to begin on January 17, 2020, will be disrupted. Bring Me The News reports the Supreme Court denied the request, leaving the question of ballot preparedness in limbo. In its December 31 response, the Attorney General’s office (representing Secretary Simon) argues the case should be thrown out because “in order to implement the revision Petitioners seek, state and local election officials would be required to administer the destruction, redesign, and reprinting of millions of election ballots statewide” along with “extensive reprogramming and testing” of systems that assist voters with disabilities.
The Hill quotes Kaardal saying, “Fortunately, the Minnesota Constitution prohibits the state legislature from granting such powers to an individual, association or corporation.” Kaardal’s civil rights packed brief states, “De La Fuente is a qualified alternative Republican Party candidate; yet, he has been excluded from the ballot.” The Secretary’s brief argues that De La Fuente is not excluded because he can be written-in. But, Kaardal fired back writing that no names were identified to be written-in, so any write-in vote for De La Fuente would not be counted. Another issue, Kaardal writes, is that De La Fuente is “denied the right to associate with supporters who desire to vote via absentee ballot.” This is because absentee voters, like “Republican Party voter” co-petitioner James Martin, have no way of knowing if their write-in for De La Fuente will be counted until after their ballot is submitted.
The Attorney General’s brief for the Secretary argues, “The core right implicated by this case is the Republican Party’s First Amendment right to freedom of association.” The brief alleges that the primary election is simply a querying of Minnesotan’s whims, and the corporation holding influence over those particular groups of Minnesotans can do whatever they want with the information obtained. This includes ignoring the results of a multi-million dollar tax-payer footed election despite the opposite being published on the Secretary’s own website: “The presidential primary results must bind the election of delegates in each party.” The DFL’s brief complements the Secretary’s arguments supporting a system where chairpersons of corporations have the exclusive power to decide for Minnesotans who best represents them from a pool of candidates composed of the corporate chairperson’s choosing.
“The company known as Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Building Fund, Inc. is in the same predicament as the company known as Republican Party Of Minnesota, Inc.,” says Martin, who has published the court filings on his old campaign website, “Both are led by a corporate chairperson newly empowered by the state to decide who best represents large groups of loosely affiliated Minnesotans called political parties. But, that’s backwards. The millions of Minnesotans like me who use words such as ‘Democrat’ and ‘Republican’ are the rightful owners of the nomination power. It is our right to decide who best represents our groups’ views. If a guy wants to live under a system of government where a handful of corporate insiders have the exclusive right to choose who the public can vote for, I’d suggest that guy move to Russia.”
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Jim Martin, 651-206-8663
Erick Kaardal, Esq. 612-465-0927
Angela (Fisher) Velasquez 727-490-9911 (De La Fuente campaign)