In a bold escalation of its effort to have Donald Trump and Mike Pence removed from the ballot in Minnesota, the DFL Party has taken its argument to the state Supreme Court.
Ken Martin, the party’s chair, late Thursday filed a petition with the court asking it to order the Minnesota secretary of state to strip the Republicans’ names off the state’s Nov. 8 election ballot.
There is urgency in resolving the issue, because early voting will begin in Minnesota Sept. 23.
The petition names Secretary of State Steve Simon as the defendant. It says Simon erred when he accepted a “certificate of nomination” filed about Aug. 25 by the state Republican Party after its Executive Committee met to select and approve alternate presidential electors. According to state law, electors and alternate electors must be nominated at an official state convention.
The petition said the state GOP erred at its state convention on May 20-21 in Duluth, where delegates “at large” and from each of Minnesota’s congressional districts nominated 10 presidential electors but failed to nominate 10 alternate electors.
The petition quoted the law (the italicized type is the party’s) as saying, “Presidential electors and alternates for the major political parties of this state shall be nominated by delegate conventions called and held under the supervision of the respective state central committees of the parties of this state.”
The petition continued: “This language is clear and unequivocal: Alternatives ‘shall’ be nominated — not unilaterally by party leaders — but by ‘delegate conventions.’ After the convention, the chair of each major political party must then certify the names of the persons nominated as presidential electors and alternates at the convention, as well as the names of the party candidates for president and vice president to the Secretary of State at least 71 days before the general election.”
“The Executive Committee,” the petition said, “is obviously not a ‘delegate convention.’ ”
Because the state GOP missed the Aug. 29 deadline to comply with state law, “the Secretary of State had no authority to certify Trump and Pence … thereby causing their names to be placed on the general election ballot in Minnesota,” the document said.
Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment Thursday night.
And a DFL Party spokesman said Martin would not be making any comments Thursday night.
At least two of the lawyers representing Martin and the party, Marc Elias and Kevin Hamilton of the Perkins Coie law firm, represented now-U.S. Sen. Al Franken in the 2008 U.S. Senate seat race recount.
The current ballot issue caused a brief frenzy in late August when Michael Brodkorb, a former GOP political operative and a former Star Tribune blogger, reported on Twitter that the state Republican Party had failed to properly submit the names of its presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as electors and alternate electors for the Electoral College.
The members of the Electoral College officially decide the presidential race by casting votes following the popular election.
The next day, Aug. 25, a spokesman for Simon said the filing was complete and the Republican ticket would be listed on the office website shortly.
As of Thursday evening, Trump and Pence’s names were on the sample ballot at the secretary of state’s website.
Late Thursday, Ryan Furlong, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said, “Our office doesn’t comment on pending litigation.”