South Dakota Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scott Heidepriem sets the record straight on why his running mate, Ben Arndt, switched his registration yesterday from Republican to Democrat. No, it wasn't the law. Heidepriem and Arndt were happy and ready to offer South Dakotans the chance to vote for a bipartisan ticket for governor and lieutenant governor. But at 4:45 p.m. yesterday, the Republicans (I haven't gotten clear on which ones—Nelson? a litigious party chair?*) made clear they would block the certification of the Heidepriem/Arndt ticket based on Arndt's status as a registered Republican.
Now you can bet that Heidepriem scrutinized the law in much greater detail than I ever will. Heidepriem was confident that if the Republicans tried to stop the Heidepriem/Arndt ticket in court, the Dems would win and the Arndt nomination would stand. There is no law preventing us Democrats from nominating a Republican or an Independent or any other citizen who meets the legal qualifications for office.
But check it out: the Democrats and Ben Arndt just spared us taxpayers another unnecessary lawsuit. Ben Arndt said, no problem, I'll re-register.
As Jim Abourezk said this morning, "Ben Arndt didn't leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left him."
And as Scott Heidepriem noted this morning, if the Republicans are willing to break out the legal trickery and obstruction already just to challenge our lieutenant governor candidate, they must really not like Ben Arndt... or what he brings to Team Heidepriem. "There's something about this guy that has the Republicans scared to death," says Scott.
Ah, I love the smell of Republican fear in the morning.
*Update 2010.06.27 08:22 CDT: Let's clarify: Team Heidepriem checked with two lawyers before announcing Arndt's addition to the ticket a month ago. They found no law or party rule under which Arndt's candidacy could be challenged. They checked with the Secretary of State's office, which said it saw no legal problem with certifying a mixed ticket. At 4:45 p.m. Friday, a tipster contacted the campaign, let them know the Republican chicanery afoot, and informed them that the Secretary of State had changed his position to say the law on this matter is not clear.
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