Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Regarding the "Mother Ek" kerfuffle

This from the Grand Forks Herald:
Kay Ek, 71, was gearing up her campaign on Tuesday after the state Supreme Court on Monday ordered her daughter Sue removed from the ballot, determining she hadn't established official residency in the district. The special election will be held next Tuesday.

"This election should be about the voters having a choice. … This is Stearns County, Sherburne County, not the Soviet Union," state GOP Chairman Ron Carey told reporters after he attempted to file papers for Kay Ek's candidacy.

But Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer couldn't accept the filing. An opinion she requested from Attorney General Mike Hatch's office Tuesday said state law only allows a replacement if the original candidate dies or withdraws from the race — not if removed by court order.

"Because removal of the name of Susanne Ek did not arise out of death, catastrophic illness or withdrawal of candidacy, there is no procedure set forth in Minnesota law for replacing Ms. Ek on the ballot," Chief Deputy Kristine Eiden wrote in a letter to Kiffmeyer.

The court's decision leaves just one candidate on the ballot — Stearns County Commissioner Larry Haws, the DFL's endorsed candidate. The election was prompted by the resignation of DFL Rep. Joe Opatz.

Kiffmeyer told county elections officials to start printing ballots without a GOP candidate.

Meanwhile, the state Republican Party strongly condemned the opinion from Hatch's office. In an e-mailed statement, Carey said the GOP will back Kay Ek's write-in campaign.

"Mike Hatch has attempted to deny the voters of House District 15B a choice," the statement said.
While I won't doubt for a minute that Mike Hatch isn't losing any sleep, and while I'd even venture to guess that Hatch has a smirk on his face regarding this kerfuffle, I don't think that Hatch purposefully left Kay Ek's name off of the ballot. The rules were indeed clear, and if anyone is to blame it is Sue Ek and her handlers for not dropping out earlier (or even running in the first place). While it is clearly Carey's job to play the attack dog and to spin the situation, he does no one any favors by passing the buck, and in the process he ignores the blatant incompetence on the different levels that led to this situation. This fiasco no doubt leaves a black eye on the Party. But black eyes, given time, do heal. Lessons will be learned, and things will be done better in the future. But for now, let's not ignore the problem or pretend that it never existed; lest it be repeated. One black eye in a decade is quite enough, thank you.

(Filed under Elections)