Judge Rules Kirkpatrick Can Stay On Primary Ballot

Jun 19, 2018

Democratic congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick can appear on the Aug. 28 primary ballot in Arizona even though information about where she lives was incorrectly stated on some of her campaign documents, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Credit Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call/Getty

A lawsuit funded by one of Kirkpatrick's opponents sought to kick her off the ballot, alleging she falsely claimed she lived in an apartment in Tucson, when she actually resides in a condo in downtown Phoenix. Kirkpatrick said she has been living in Tucson for more than a year.

Judge Joshua Rogers concluded Kirkpatrick was residing in Tucson when she announced her candidacy in July and when she collected petition signatures to appear on the ballot.

She lived for several months in a home owned by friends and later moved into an apartment that she shares with her stepson.

Some of Kirkpatrick's nominating petitions incorrectly used her first Tucson address, but "this does not invalidate any of the signatures of those nominations," Rogers wrote, adding that technical errors on Kirkpatrick's documents won't likely confuse voters.

The lawsuit was funded by the campaign of former state Rep. Matt Heinz, who is competing against Kirkpatrick for the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 2, which includes the Tucson area and Cochise County.

Brian Robinson, Heinz's campaign manager, said the campaign was disappointed with the decision but didn't plan to appeal.

Attorneys David Weatherwax and Craig Morgan, who represent the three voters who challenged Kirkpatrick's candidacy, said in a statement that judges are reluctant to keep candidates off the ballot.

The lawsuit didn't challenge Kirkpatrick's residency, because the law says candidates merely have to be a state resident and do not have to live in the district where they are running. Instead, the lawsuit alleged Kirkpatrick broke a campaign law by providing false information about her address on nominating documents.

"We regarded it as a desperate dirty trick by a candidate whose support has eroded," said Kirkpatrick spokesman Rodd McLeod, referring to Heinz.

Kirkpatrick testified that she rents an apartment in Tucson and occasionally spends time at her home in Phoenix. The cities are about 110 miles (177 kilometers) apart.

Her campaign said a small portion of her nominating petitions contained her first address, because the volunteers who collected signatures for her didn't know that she had moved to another address in Tucson.

Kirkpatrick is a former member of Congress. She gave up her seat representing northeastern Arizona in 2016 to make an unsuccessful challenge to Republican Sen. John McCain.

Last week a judge ruled that former state Rep. Don Shooter can run for the state Senate because he is still a resident of the district he wants to represent. Shooter is the first state lawmaker in the United States to be ousted over sexual misconduct allegations after the rise of the #MeToo movement.