Stephanie Strong is suing Secretary of State Jason Gant for illegally validating Rep. Brian Gosch's illegally self-notarized petitions. Judge Robert Mandel has ordered Secretary Gant to either yank Rep. Gosch from the ballot or show up at the Pennington County Courthouse October 3 to explain why he shouldn't.
Secretary Gant's former Pierre minion, Pat Powers, lurches online to declare that Ms. Strong is a "fool" with "no freaking idea what she's doing." And indeed, whatever lawyer the Howie-Randazzo cabal found to write up her legal papers likely screwed up by filing in the wrong jurisdiction. Republican legal aficionado Bryce Rausch weighs in here with SDCL 12-1-13, which seems to suggest Strong had just five days back during primary season to challenge Gant's Gosch-darned malfeasance. Slightly grayer eminence Lee Schoenbeck agrees, perhaps on other statutory grounds that Strong's challenge was not timely filed.
Lee gets paid to do law; I shouldn't question his ruling. But if we read just three lines farther in South Dakota election law, we find the five-day limit Rausch cites may not preclude Strong's action:
SDCL 12-1-16: Other legal remedies to challenge petition not precluded. If a person fails to challenge a petition pursuant to § 12-1-13, it does not deny that person any other legal remedy to challenge the filing of a nominating, initiative, or referendum petition.
I labor under no illusion that Strong will breeze into court and crush the fully mobilized GOP state legal machine. I'm laying slightly better odds that she will either launch into a recitation of the Articles of Confederation in the courtroom or miss court completely after failing answer a call about the change of venue from the Hughes County Clerk of Courts.
But if Strong can stay focused, SDCL 12-1-16 at least seems to leave the door open for her to confront Secretary Gant with the facts and legal merits of her case against him.