Government

Ron Corbett calls challenge to spot on ballot 'baseless'

GOP blogger says former mayor didn't get enough signatures

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Corbett discusses education funding Feb. 22 during a news conference at the Cedar Rapids Public Library in downtown Cedar Rapids. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Corbett discusses education funding Feb. 22 during a news conference at the Cedar Rapids Public Library in downtown Cedar Rapids. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ron Corbett is confident he’ll be on the June 5 primary election ballot despite a complaint filed Wednesday that he failed to gather the minimum number of signatures required for his nomination petition.

The former Cedar Rapids mayor, who also once served as Speaker of the Iowa House, said Wednesday he and his campaign staff spent much of last week reviewing the signatures and removing duplicates.

Corbett has been gathering signatures for the past year as he competes with Gov. Kim Reynolds for the GOP nomination for governor.

“I don’t think we miscounted,” he said after a GOP activist and blogger filed a formal challenge with the Secretary of State, asserting Corbett failed to submit the necessary 4,005 valid signatures. Corbett’s campaign submitted his petition about 30 minutes before the March 16 deadline because he and his staff were checking for errors, he said.

What they didn’t find was the 104 duplicate signatures and seven more improperly filled out signatures that Craig Robinson, of TheIowaRepublican.com and a supporter of Reynolds, said he discovered.

Robinson reported Wednesday he had filed a formal challenge documenting the duplicate and improper signatures.

“I am confident that after reviewing the material that Secretary of State Paul Pate will conclude as I did: Ron Corbett failed to meet minimum criteria to be on the Republican primary ballot this coming June,” Robinson said.

But Corbett was confident after the challenge.

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

But the challenge is indicative of the hostile environment his campaign has encountered, Corbett said.

“Certainly the establishment — the donor class and the special interests — have rallied around Reynolds,” he said. “But there is another important class — the people.”

He said found it interesting that rather than Reynolds accepting his challenge for a series of eight debates ahead of the primary, “one of her lackeys challenges my nomination petition.”

Robinson rejected the “lackey” label and said that instead of being angry with him or Reynolds, “perhaps he should question his staff and his own management of his campaign.”

Corbett campaign manager Cory Crowley called it the “latest attempt to prevent a fair and open primary … (by) establishment insiders with deep ties to Gov. Reynolds.”

A review board of Pate, Auditor Mary Mosiman and Attorney General Tom Miller will be convened, likely next week, to review the complaint. It will hear from Robinson and the Corbett campaign and, after reviewing evidence, will issue a decision.

The challenge period for any candidate’s nomination petitions for the June 5 primary runs through 5 p.m. March 23.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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