|U.S. Rep. Todd Young (AP Photo)|
The Indiana Election Division's hand count for the First District had 501 valid signatures submitted by Young's campaign in the First District, still perilously close to the cut-off requirement. The Election Division cautioned Politico that their signature report is not "gospel."
Indiana Democrats filed a formal challenge to Young's primary petitions. In addition to falling short of the 500 required valid signatures of registered voters in the First District, the Indiana Democrats are contesting 88 petition signatures submitted by Young's campaign in the First District. If Young failed to make the ballot, that would leave U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman as the lone candidate in the race, allowing him to win by default.
Young's campaign is dismissive of the allegations contained in the Democratic challenge. "Todd Young has clearly met the requirements to be listed on the ballot," Trevor Foughty, Young's campaign manager said. "Our campaign submitted more than enough ballot petition signatures in each congressional district. Further, clerks in all 92 counties verified the validity of those signatures. At this point, any attempt to disenfranchise voters would be unfortunate, underhanded, and ultimately unsuccessful."
We've seen these kinds of challenges before. If you're a candidate the establishment of both parties decides shouldn't be on the ballot, you will be bounced. Look at Jim Wallace's ouster from the 2012 Republican gubernatorial primary, giving Mike Pence a free ride to the nomination. Young is quite different than Wallace. He's establishment all the way with the most powerful forces in this state in his corner. Yeah, I know it's supposed to be based on the law, but this is Indiana, after all.
Remember, Democrats challenged McCain's petitions in 2008, claiming he failed to submit enough signatures in two congressional districts. He was ultimately ruled eligible for the ballot. We later learned that someone on the Republican side should have been checking the Democrats' petitions in the Second District where Democratic leaders in St. Joseph County forged signatures to make Barack Obama eligible for the Indiana ballot. Five individuals were ultimately prosecuted and convicted of that crime, including the long-time St. Joseph County Chairman and 2nd District Chair Butch Morgan.
Here's a statement released tonight by Marlin Stutzman's campaign on Young's predicament: Campaign Manager Josh Kelley stated.
“Todd Young’s inability to gather sufficient signatures is a real concern to countless Republicans our team has spoken with today.” Kelley added, “Todd Young’s team has seemed more focused on garnering establishment support in DC and raising money from corporate interests than in meeting with Hoosiers and engaging in a meaningful grassroots effort here in Indiana. Either Young is not focused, or he simply fails to connect with voters. Either way Young is not prepared to run a statewide campaign.” Kelley is confident in Stutzman’s campaign regardless of how the Democrat challenge to Todd’s candidacy is resolved. “Congressman Stutzman had the ground game to gather the most signatures statewide of any candidate in this race. Our team is hitting on all cylinders and ready to deliver in May and in November.” said Kelley.