GOP’s Trump-only primary ballot in Minnesota challenged in court

A pile of stickers on a table in front of voting booths.
"I voted" stickers await voters inside of a polling place at Martin Luther King Community Center in St. Paul on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. A lawsuit has now been filed over the Minnesota GOP's decision to only submit President Trump's name for the March primary ballot.
Evan Frost | MPR News

A Republican voter and a candidate for president are challenging the lack of options on the party’s March primary ballot in Minnesota.

A petition filed late last week asks the Minnesota Supreme Court to order the inclusion of Republican candidates beyond President Trump.

Candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente and James Bernard Martin Jr., a Minnesota voter supporting De La Fuente, brought the case. They said it was wrong and potentially unconstitutional to omit other candidates.

“The purpose of a major political party primary election is, in essence, to give voters a choice among competitor candidates within the party,” their petition to the court said. “Without identified competitors, there is no reason for a primary election.”

Their attorney, Erick Kaardal, said the primary differs from the party-driven caucus process used in the past because of who is footing the bill for the election.

“This is nationally embarrassing that we have a taxpayer funded presidential primary with just one candidate on the ballot,” Kaardal said Monday. “It’s absurd — legally absurd, culturally absurd. It makes the state look really stupid.”

The petition names Secretary of State Steve Simon as the defendant. His office declined comment on the case.

State law gives the parties the power to designate who is on the March 3rd ballot. Republican leaders submitted only Trump’s name in October, but have said they’ll allow for write-ins.

Democrats are due to release their ballot slate Tuesday.

Both parties had a Dec. 31 deadline in law to do so.

Kaardal has asked for expedited consideration by the high court because ballot printing will begin in a matter of weeks. Voters can access absentee ballots starting on Jan. 17.

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