A leading Republican vying for his party's nomination for the soon-to-be-open Senate seat in Indiana will have to defend his ability to run in the March 3rd primary after Democrats claimed that he failed to get enough signatures to be added to the primary ballot.
The Indiana Democratic Party has formally challenged Republican Rep. Todd Young's candidate petitions, saying he submitted 498 candidate petitions from Indiana's First Congressional District, which is two short of the 500 signatures needed to be added to the ballot. Indiana requires candidates obtain 500 signatures from each Congressional District to be added to the ballot for a Senate race.
"As it stands today — Young's ability to be on the ballot for the U.S. Senate in Indiana could be in jeopardy," Indiana Democratic Party chairman John Zody said in a statement, "The IDP is formally challenging Young's petitions because it is imperative that every candidate seeking office in Indiana is determined to be eligible — and it appears Todd Young may not be eligible."
But Young's campaign claims the challenge is nothing but "a desperate attempt to keep him off the ballot," saying they submitted more than enough signatures to be added to the ballot.
"Our campaign turned in nearly 650 signatures in the 1st District. County clerks and the Indiana Election Commission verified we had the requisite number of validated signatures before we ever filed the ballot paperwork. We believe the actual number of valid signatures there is even higher than was verified," Young's campaign spokesman Trevor Foughty said in a statement, "We are confident that at the end of this process, the Election Commission will reject the blatantly political gamesmanship of the Indiana Democrat Party."
The challenge will be considered during a February 19th hearing of the Indiana Election Division, where a four member commission including two Republicans and two Democrats will hear arguments from both sides. If that panel ties, or a majority votes that Young had a sufficient number of signatures, Young will stay on the ballot. If a majority votes to take Young off the ballot that decision can be appealed, but would require court action.
The Indiana Senate seat is rated as a "likely Republican" seat, and Young is running against his fellow House colleague Rep Marlin Stutzman, R-Indiana. Sen. Dan Coats, who announced his retirement last March, had endorsed his former chief of staff Eric Holcomb for the nomination, but Holcomb dropped out of the race this week, and according to recent FEC filings Young has bypassed his Republican opponents in fundraising with over $2 million cash on hand.