Staff Columnist

Candidates stumbling over petition problems

Corbett, Greenfield scramble for signatures to appear on ballots

Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett announces his run for Governor June 20, 2017, to a crowd outside the NewBo City Market. He called himself a conservative Republican with an independent streak. Now nine months later, a state panel will rule on whether he ever collected enough valid signatures on a petition to run in the upcoming Republican primary. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett announces his run for Governor June 20, 2017, to a crowd outside the NewBo City Market. He called himself a conservative Republican with an independent streak. Now nine months later, a state panel will rule on whether he ever collected enough valid signatures on a petition to run in the upcoming Republican primary. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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Submitting signatures has never been so exciting.

Not one, but two candidates for office in Iowa — one for governor and one for Congress — are in danger of losing their spots on the ballot thanks to potential issues with their nominating signatures.

March 16 was the deadline for state and federal candidates to file petitions at the Iowa Secretary of State office. To be on the ballot, prospective candidates are required to collect a certain number of signatures.

Two candidates who have been running serious campaigns now could be disqualified.

Ron Corbett, a Republican candidate for governor, had his nominating signatures challenged by Craig Robinson, a conservative blogger.

Corbett needed to obtain 4,005 signatures in order to be on the ballot for the June 5 primary election against Gov. Kim Reynolds. The former Cedar Rapids mayor and Iowa Speaker of the House filed his signatures roughly a half-hour before the deadline after first checking for errors, he told The Gazette.

But Robinson, who publishes the website The Iowa Republican, said he found more than 100 duplicates and errors, which would bring Corbett below the signature threshold.

A review board made up of Secretary of State Paul Pate, State Auditor Mary Mosiman and Attorney General Tom Miller will convene to review the challenge, likely this coming week, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Corbett said he is confident his candidacy will be upheld, and dismissed Robinson’s challenge as evidence of establishment Republicans attacking his campaign to bolster that of Reynolds.

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“I’m sure we have the adequate number and that the challenge is baseless,” Corbett said.

Theresa Greenfield, a would-be Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 3rd U.S. House District, also faces a challenge to maintain her candidacy.

Greenfield filed a set of signatures but shortly afterward said she realized some of them had been forged by her campaign manager, who she since has fired.

Greenfield hurriedly withdrew those signatures, collected another batch and refiled just before the deadline.

But an analysis by the Secretary of State showed there were not enough signatures in Greenfield’s new filing and rejected it.

Greenfield is examining other options to get back on the ballot, including the possibility of being named as a candidate by a Democratic Party convention in the district. The 3rd District Democrats plan to meet Monday to discuss it.

“They have an opportunity to follow the lead of all those who came out on Friday, stood up for fairness, and chipped in their time and considerable energy to help put me on the ballot,” Greenfield said in a statement.

Even if the party nominates Greenfield to be on the ballot, the Secretary of State must consider the nomination and whether it is permitted by state law.

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“The role of the Secretary of State’s office in this process is to take receipt of a convention certificate, which does not mean that the selected candidate’s placement on the ballot is guaranteed or above legal challenge,” Pate said in a statement.

Corbett has been viewed as a long shot to defeat Reynolds, a sitting governor, who replaced Terry Branstad when he became U.S. ambassador to China. But Corbett has been running a serious campaign, raising nearly $845,000 in 2017, fifth-most among the dozen candidates in the race last year.

Greenfield, a Des Moines businesswoman, raised the second-most money in a crowded field of seven Democrats seeking the party’s 3rd District nomination to run against Republican U.S. Rep. David Young.

Both are now fighting just to keep their names on the ballot.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

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