DES MOINES (AP) — A committee of three Iowa officials is expected to decide today whether Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson will be listed on the November ballot in that state.
Documents challenging Johnson’s candidacy were filed Friday by two Iowa voters. Jay Kramer, who said he is the Election Day operations director in Iowa for Mitt Romney’s campaign, signed the document as a witness.
The committee — Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller and Warren Jenkins, the chief deputy for Republican Auditor David Vaudt — heard arguments Monday.
Miller, who served as chairman of the meeting, said a decision is likely today, and probably will be challenged in court. But there’s not much time to resolve the dispute; candidates must be certified for Iowa’s ballot by 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Johnson’s campaign said the Romney organization is behind the effort to exclude Johnson and running mate James Gray, but Republican Party spokesman Tom Szold said the campaign denies the allegation.
Libertarians hope to get on the Iowa ballot using a method that allows third party candidates to hold a state convention, which must be attended by at least 250 eligible voters. The party says it held its convention at the Iowa State Fair, but challenge documents say a convention was never held.
Kramer said he was at the State Fair on Aug. 15, the day the Libertarians say they convened, and saw an individual with a “Gary Johnson for President” shirt walking around. Kramer said he never saw a gathering resembling a party convention or caucus.
Several Republicans signed statements that said they were approached at the fair to sign the document on the clipboard and did so. They said they never attended a convention even though their names appear on the list of convention attendees.
Washington attorney Michael Morley, who has represented Republican groups on various election issues, spoke on behalf of the challengers, saying what the Libertarians did on Aug. 15 was a petition drive.
“A convention is not seeking out eligible electors,” Morley said. “A convention is your delegates are convening for a purpose. They are convening to meet, to engage in political debate, to engage in a structured discussion, to vote and to participate in a single coherent, interactive group event.”
Johnson’s campaign attorney, Alicia Dearn, said the procedures were recommended by the Secretary of State’s Office and were accepted for Socialist Party candidates in 2008.
“We were told it was certified and accepted by the Secretary of State’s Office; then we got this challenge at 5:20 p.m. on Friday,” she said.
She argued that the procedure and paperwork complied with Iowa law and past practice.