Originally Published: June 30, 2018 6 a.m.
PHOENIX — Republican Wendy Rogers is entitled to run for Congress despite flaws in her nominating petitions, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
Chief Justice Scott Bales, writing for himself and three other justices hearing the case, acknowledged that some of the nominating petitions submitted by Wendy Rogers incorrectly listed that the people signing them were residents of Coconino County. In fact, Congressional District 1 encompasses all or parts of 11 of the state’s 15 counties, with signatures coming from around the district.
The error, according to Mike Liburdi, her attorney, was caused when campaign workers presumed that the county that is supposed to be at the top of each sheet was the county of residence of the candidate. That is not the law.
But Bales called the error “relatively unimportant when the nomination petition is considered as a whole.’’ And he said that Stetson Kizzar, who challenged the validity of the petitions, had not shown that the mistake could have confused or misled the people who actually signed the petition.
Bales also rejected claims by Tim La Sota, representing Kizzar, that having an incorrect county listed on a petition makes it difficult for them to be divided up so that election can verify their the signatures from their own counties.
He said the record shows that county recorders had no problem. In fact, Bales said the incorrect counties did not keep La Sota and Kizzar from doing their own check of signatures and challenging some of them on different grounds.
Thursday’s ruling means that the Republican primary for CD 1 will remain a three-way race.
Also running is current state Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, and Eloy farmer and attorney Tiffany Shedd.
La Sota has declined to say who was financing the legal challenge and whether it was on behalf of either of the other GOP contenders.
Whoever survives the Aug. 28 primary will face off against incumbent Democrat Tom O’Halleran.
Democrats, who make up nearly 37 percent of registered voters, have a slight edge in the sprawling district that runs all the way from the state’s northern edge through Pinal County and even Tucson suburbs before ending at Arizona’s eastern border.
Republicans make up nearly 31 percent and are outnumbered in the district by political independents.
Rogers, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and one of the first woman pilots, is making her fifth try for public office.
She made a 2010 bid for the state Senate, along with bids to get elected to Congress from CD 9 in 2012 and 2014. A 2016 run for the GOP nomination in CD 1 also proved unsuccessful.