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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 21, 2018

Caligiuri’s primary petition rejected; Peters to be on GOP ballot alone

By Ed Tibbetts, Quad City Times | Mar 28, 2018

A three-person panel on Tuesday rejected the nomination petition for Republican Ginny Caligiuri to be on the June 5 primary ballot in the 2nd congressional district.

The decision leaves Christopher Peters alone on the GOP ballot for now. However, Caligiuri’s campaign said after the ruling it plans to challenge the panel’s decision in court.

On a 3-0 vote in Des Moines, the State Objection Panel decided to uphold the challenge lodged by Peters’ campaign against Caligiuri's petition to be on the ballot.

Peters’ campaign manager, Matthew Evans, said at least 14 signatures from Washington County were either duplicates or from people living in the county.

As a result, Evans said, the Caligiuri campaign had not met the legal requirement to have a sufficient number of signatures in 12 of the district’s 24 counties to qualify for the ballot.

Iowa law requires that nomination petitions for congressional candidates have signatures for half the counties in the district that equal at least 2 percent of the votes in those counties for the party's most recent presidential candidate.

During the hearing Tuesday, Caligiuri’s campaign manager, Shawn Zierke, argued that it would meet the threshold if signatures from Monroe County were to be accepted.

The campaign had submitted signatures for Monroe County, but some of those were on pages that did not list the political party. Without those signatures, there weren't enough signatures for Monroe County, either.

Zierke said the campaign had not been told of the deficiencies, even though it filed its nomination papers a day before the deadline. "If the underlying premise is to allow a candidate access to the ballot in a reasonable situation, we would ask for your mercy for this campaign,” she told the panel.

However, Attorney General Tom Miller, one of the members of the objection panel said a similar instance in 2004 resulted in a Democratic candidate for Congress being rejected.

“I think it’s hard to depart from that,” he said.

The other members of the panel were Secretary of State Paul Pate and State Auditory Mary Mosiman.

Afterward, Zierke said the panel has been flexible in the past, pointing to a 2012 decision to allow the petitions of Joe Seng, the late state senator from Davenport, even though there were irregularities with them.

Seng, at the time, was challenging Loebsack in the Democratic primary.

Zierke said Tuesday she did not know when a complaint would be filed with the district court in Polk County, but that Caligiuri would continue seeking the nomination and is moving forward with plans for an April tour of the district.

“We’re still running,” she said.

The Peters campaign said after the decision that it appreciates the work the Caligiuri campaign went to and is empathetic. However, Evans said, "We wholeheartedly agree with the panel’s unanimous decision." He added he believes the decision will be upheld and there's no basis for a court challenge.

A comment was being sought late Tuesday from Peters' campaign. A surgeon from Coralville, Peters was the GOP candidate for the 2nd District seat in 2016. He announced last summer that he would give it another try.

A small business owner from Osceola, Caligiuri formally announced her candidacy earlier this month, though her name was being mentioned as a candidate earlier.

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