As expected, U.S. District Court Judge Roberto Lange ruled against the Constitution Party's lawsuit to get its statewide candidates on the South Dakota ballot. The Constitution Party failed to find 250 party members who would sign a petition to nominate a gubernatorial candidate, so the party sued, saying they and any other small group of friends who get a wild hair ought to be able to declare themselves a political party and put candidates on the ballot. Some small fraction of the Constitution Party's members gathered for a "convention" in June to name Joy Howe of Brandon their candidate for governor and asked Judge Lange to order her name added to the statewide ballot
Judge Lange declined, saying the signature requirement is perfectly constitutional: "The fact that signatures from 250 party members represent such a high percentage of Constitution Party members reflects the limited size of the Constitution Party of South Dakota rather than any violation of the Equal Protection Clause." Judge Lange also pulled the rug out from under Howe by saying neither she nor any other party member had standing to pursue the lawsuit, since no party member actually submitted a nominating petition to have it rejected by the state under the law they challenged. (Hey, if anyone has a copy of the ruling, send it my way! I'd love to read it.)
Now the only candidate the 315 members of the Constitution Party have to rally around is dedicated conspiracy theorist Lori Stacey, who wants to take over the Secretary of State's office. Their District 12 State Senate candidate Slade Ammann withdrew, as did their District 33 House candidate; the only CP'er left on the ballot is Charles E. Drews for District 9 House (only info I can find on him: the South Dakota Gun Owners survey, where Drews says he thinks packing heat in church is a fine idea).
If the Constitution Party wants to put candidates on the statewide ballot, it should drop the lawsuits and conspiracy theories and develop a practical agenda for governing that resonates with the public and gets people to see the party as something more than a sideshow.
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