DES MOINES, Iowa -- Ron Corbett, a Republican former Iowa Speaker of the House and mayor of Cedar Rapids, failed to qualify to run for governor in the traditional, legal way. Now, he is waiting to see if a Polk County District Judge will give him that chance.
On Tuesday, Corbett's legal team argued before Judge David May with the hopes his campaign will have a better outcome than when it made its case to a three-person state panel last Tuesday.
"The stricken signature issue is the issue that decides the outcome of this proceeding," Des Moines attorney Mark Weinhardt summed up for the judge in the courtroom case against Corbett's appeal.
Weinhardt represented the state since Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, recused himself. Miller served on the state panel that ruled against Corbett last Tuesday.
Weinhardt argued that Corbett's team is trying to submit 58 additional signatures that were previously crossed out by the campaign for containing inaccurate information. The campaign tried to only include nine, he said, just a week ago.
The campaign claims the signatures should be considered valid and were crossed out by mistake. Weinhardt told the judge it shouldn't work that way.
"There are thousands of signatures on it but some are crossed out with a big black Sharpie," Weinhardt said. "Isn't that obvious that those signatures are not supposed to be counted?"
He said it would set a dangerous precedent for the court, since it's impossible to tell why or when signatures got crossed out and who did it.
(Attorney Mark Weinhardt holds up copy of signatures that the Ron Corbett campaign crossed off on its petitions before originally submitting last month to the secretary of state's office.)
(Weinhardt holds up fictitious check to Corbett for governor to make a point about whether it could be accepted in a financial instituition.)
A state panel ruled last week that Corbett's campaign ended up eight signatures short of the 4,005 needed to legally qualify for the primary ballot for governor. Corbett's lawyers argued that the court needs to take into account the desires of those who signed the petitions. Attorney Jake Kline said, "It comes down to what did that voter want. Did they intend to put Mr. Corbett on the ballot?"
Corbett's other attorney, Pat Sealey, accused the two Republicans on the state panel who ruled against him--Secretary of State Paul Pate and State Auditor Mary Mosiman--of being "part of the political machine" that is working to keep Corbett off the ballot and stopping him from taking part in a primary against Governor Kim Reynolds.
After the hearing, Corbett repeated previous claims that the "Republican establishment" was uniting to keep him out of the race and he expressed hope the judge could put him on the ballot. "I want to be knocked out on the debate stage by the governor, not knocked out in a court," Corbett said, "So to continue with the boxing analogy, I guess I'm down for the count. And I'm on the canvas...and are in the 'ten count' and the judge is going to be deciding whether I'm going to be saved by the bell."
Corbett expects a decision from the judge in the next few days.