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Heidepriem's Running Mate Switches Parties

June 28, 2010, 9:04 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Heidepriem's Running Mate Switches Parties
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Scott Heidepriem's attempt at a bi-partisan ticket for governor in South Dakota has been torn down after the Republican Secretary of State said state law wouldn't allow him to certify the team for the ballot. 

Heidepriem says he believes the law allows registered Republican Ben Arndt to be his running mate on a Democratic ticket.
But late Friday, Arndt registered as a Democrat to prevent a court date with Secretary of State Chris Nelson.

Heidepriem made the bold move when he picked Republican Ben Arndt as his running mate four weeks ago. 

"We wanted to have a unity ticket to say to the people of South Dakota that there are things more important than partisan politics. But, what better way to make that point than to have the Republicans force us to not have a unity ticket," Heidepriem said. 

Arndt changed parties because Heidepriem had heard Nelson would not certify the bi-partisan ticket if Arndt was not a Democrat before this weekend's state convention.

"We began fielding calls from people familiar with this and we would confirm that yes in fact he's going to have to switch his party affiliation before the actual nomination takes place," Nelson said.

Nelson bases his decision on a specific state law that says, 'No person may...be nominated as a political candidate for a party unless that person is a registered voter with that party...' 

"The reason for that statute is essentially so that voters know who they're voting for." Nelson said.

But, Heidepriem is familiar with that short statute too and doesn't think it applies in this case. 

"But that relates to primary elections and the reason we know that is because that's the name of the section, primary elections," Heidepriem said.

Heidepriem says Lieutenant Governor candidates are not picked in a primary so the law doesn't apply to Arndt. Heidepriem could have challenged the law in court but decided to let Arndt decide what to do.

"Then my choice is I can take him to court and try to get that reversed and spend money and time, or I left in in Ben Arndt's hands and he said I'll re-register," Heidepriem said.

Heidepriem says the section of law that covers rules for lieutenant governor nominations, and political conventions, doesn't say anything about party affiliation.

Heidepriem says he got two opinions from two different attorneys before he made the pick and they said the bi-partisan ticket was okay.

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