A Minnesota voter and a candidate seeking to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 primary filed a petition Friday challenging state election laws that allow the Minnesota Republican Party to exclude all candidates other than Trump from the party’s taxpayer-funded 2020 primary ballot.
Candidate Rocque De La Fuente and James Martin, a Minnesota voter, filed papers with the Minnesota Supreme Court targeting what their attorney described as an unconstitutional set of laws governing how major parties assemble their presidential primary ballots.
Under Minnesota law, major political party chairs designate who appears on the presidential primary ballot in the state, and the secretary of state must honor their requests. Erick Kaardal, an attorney for De La Fuente and Martin, said the statutes violate state constitutional provisions banning political party chairs from having such influence over a primary.
“Here, the state Legislature has unconstitutionally granted the political party chairs the exclusive privilege to name the candidates on a taxpayer-funded presidential primary ballot,” Kaardal said in a statement. “It’s unconstitutional. It’s nationally embarrassing.”
Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan submitted only Trump’s name to Secretary of State Steve Simon in October, prompting DFL lawmakers to announce that they would consider proposing legislation to let candidates be listed on primary ballots if they file an affidavit and pay a fee. The policy would return the state to a process it used before switching to a caucus system after the 1992 presidential primaries.
Carnahan has since said that the party will allow write-in candidates on the ballot.
De La Fuente and Martin are asking the state Supreme Court to set an expedited briefing schedule to allow for oral arguments before absentee ballots are mailed out Jan. 17 for the March 3 primary.