Federal Judge Hears Constitution Party Members’ Lawsuit, Says There’s A “Rift” In The Party

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Three Constitution Party members say they should be on the November ballot, but a judge indicates that may not happen. This all started with Lora Hubbel and G. Matt Johnson suing Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. They’re saying it’s unconstitutional for Krebs to leave their names off the ballot. Hubbel is trying to run for governor, and Johnson is trying to run for South Dakota’s house seat.

Now a third person has filed two more lawsuits, saying he should be the party’s gubernatorial candidate. This goes back to what the judge calls “an evident rift in the party” and dueling conventions. 

On Thursday, in Federal Court, Judge Roberto Lange agreed not being on the ballot will harm Hubbel’s and Johnson’s chances of winning. However, he said the, “ballots have been printed,” and, “ordered,” and changing the ballot now would harm other candidates, the election, and the Secretary of State’s office. He pointed out absentee voting has already begun, so his concern is that adding new candidates and creating new ballots would create issues for people who have already voted. 

Lange will issue a written decision at a later date, but based on what he said in court, it appears he is siding with the Secretary of State’s office. Attorneys for Shantel Krebs had no comment, but Hubbel and Johnson are disappointed.

“I think the tactic used here was a delay tactic because when we filed the lawsuit, there was time before the ballots were printed, but I think a delay tactic works,” Hubbel said. 

“If you don’t get a good candidate in the two major parties, I think there’s room for a third party,” Johnson said.

There’s more. Terry LaFleur is now suing the state, Hubbel, and Johnson. He claims he is the true Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate. Different members of the party held two separate conventions within hours of each other, and each nominated a different candidate for governor. One was Hubbel, and one was LaFleur. In court, Hubbel and LaFleur argued over who was party chair, who had the authority to call a convention, and which convention’s candidate is legitimate. 

“I don’t think the court is going to take me seriously, because this is just basically a repeat of the August 16 hearing,” LaFleur said. 

The August 16 date LaFleur is referring to is a state court hearing that found that the Secretary of State’s process was proper. LaFleur is also suing the state for $100 million. He says that large sum is so he can get the state’s attention, because he feels like no one is listening to him. 

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