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Another Challenge! Affidavit Questions Indy Senate Candidate Walker’s Petitions

Last updated on 2014.05.21

Looks like Secretary of State Jason Gant isn't the only one with concerns about the signature gathering of Clayton Walker, newly declared Independent candidate for South Dakota's U.S. Senate race.

Late this afternoon, Brookings resident Mary Perpich submitted an affidavit to the Secretary of State's Office challenging Walker's nominating petitions. In a conversation this evening, Perpich told the Madville Times she's waiting to share the list of specific complaints until she has confirmation from Gant's office that the challenge has been received and accepted. Count on seeing the details here as soon as that confirmation is complete.

Walker, last week's surprise addition to the most candidate-packed U.S. Senate race South Dakota's seen in 80 years, is a small business consultant who graduated from Rapid City's Stevens High School. Walker currently lives back in his hometown of Black Hawk, but he was living in Brookings in 2010 when he ran unsuccessfully for a District 7 House seat. Walker finished third in the three-person Democratic primary. In a profile from the 2010 race, Walker also listed experience in elected office as the chairman of the Woodland Hills Water Board.

For the U.S. Senate race, Walker submitted an estimated 3,500 signatures, enough for Gant to approve the petitions last week but a relatively sparse 10% more than the 3,171 required for Independent candidates to make the ballot. By comparison, Gordon Howie says he submitted "more than 5,000" and Larry Pressler turned in 4,136 for their respective Independent bids for U.S. Senate.

Walker seems to have kept his campaign plans pretty quiet as he was trudging through winter snows to knock on an estimated 10,000 doors to get those 3,500 signatures. But it hasn't taken long for him to draw heat for political opportunism, a losing lawsuit against the Brookings Police Department, and flimsy campaign rhetoric about candidate age and term limits.

But there might be more serious issues for Walker to address once we know more about Perpich's challenge (which should be soon!) and Jackley's investigation (which likely won't come until after November's election).

As with many things in this active race, it would seem it's not yet time for Walker to be counting his chickens; first it's time for Gant to be counting Walker's signatures.

**Update 21:55 CDT:The Secretary of State's Office confirms late Friday afternoon that the affidavit has indeed been received and that it is currently being processed. Reached by the Madville Times, senior elections coordinator Brandon Johnson says the office has received one challenge to Clayton Walker's petitions and that the challenge in question was submitted by Mary Perpich. Johnson had no estimate on how long the review would take, but Gant will make an announcement once the processing is complete. Still no details on the content of the affidavit, but keep an eye to the Madville Times as the first source to confirm this challenge and the most eager to provide the full details once they're available.


  1. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.08

    I checked out this Clayton Walker's campaign page and as much as I hate to say this, Bosworth's page has more content.

  2. caheidelberger 2014.05.08

    Walker has a page? Where?

    Toby, excellent links. You may have captured every bit of public intel we have on Walker at the moment.

  3. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.08

    Had to google it Cory.
    Couldn't find anything on Facebook

  4. Anne Beal 2014.05.09

    Enough with the dumb petitions, challenges never result in candidates being taken off the ballot. This just wastes the resources of the SOS office.
    California has a different system: submit signatures OR pay a filing fee equal to 1% of the salary of the office. To run for the US House of Representatives you submit 3000 signatures OR a filing fee of $1740. The only people who submit signatures are the ones who want to use them for bragging rights. And donor lists.

  5. larry kurtz 2014.05.09

    Citing blue state successes while South Dakota circles the drain: how conservative.

  6. Curt 2014.05.09

    This is actually quite comical ... but, on another level, kind of sad. Through a bizarre coincidence, I had lunch today with a friend who actually serves on the Woodland Hills Water Board (more correctly, the Sanitary District, but that's a technicality). Importantly, a Woodland Hills Water Board never even existed in 2010. The Woodland Hills Homeowners Ass'n managed their water service until they needed to incorporate in order to apply for State funding to expand the system. My friend has no recollection of young Mr Walker ever being involved in management of water service in the subdivision.
    Larry Pressler may also provide some comic relief in this race, but at least he will not need to concoct phony offices he has held in order to pad his resume.

  7. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.09

    Anne Beal,

    The petition challenges are called Democracy in action and should not be halted. and in fact, the SOS should be prepared for more to come in future elections.

    All this controversy over the legality of petitions makes you wonder how many legislators and governors have been fraudulently elected because no one dared challenge their petitions.

    Granted, there are better ways for this process to serve the electorate, but I doubt South Dakota Republicans want to change the way this works given that it provides political immunity for their corrupt politicians.

  8. twuecker Post author | 2014.05.09

    Curt, that is indeed a funny coincidence. I had wondered about the truthfulness of the "Water Board" claim because I'd had trouble finding any existence of it prior to Walker's 2010 run, too. It looked from my digging around (at, the Sanitary District has minutes of the Community Association going back to 2006) that the homeowner's association owned the water system in the subdivision prior to the Sanitary District's formation, so I wondered if maybe Clayton Walker was on some subcommittee of the Woodland Hills Community Association that just didn't show up on any of the minutes available. Not enough evidence in my mind to definitively say the claim is phony, but it's certainly fishy.

    Roger Cornelius, well said. I like a system that works to hold the petitioners accountable (even if it doesn't eventually yield an overturn of the candidacy) much better than a system where a candidate can literally put a "down payment" on their office.

  9. grudznick 2014.05.09

    Why did all the insaner than all get out things only start after Mr. Gant was in the State Secretary office?

    Think about that a little bit. It will gnaw at your brain.

  10. caheidelberger 2014.05.10

    Anne, allowing candidates to buy their way onto the ballot is blatant plutocracy. What a terrible system. South Dakota's petition process, including the challenge process, is, as Roger says, an excellent exercise in democracy. Requiring candidates to gather signatures is a basic civic literacy test. You have to show that you can explain yourself to voters, identify registered voters, and follow basic rules. You have to demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the electoral process. The notary seals and the challenge process are the only ways we have to ensure candidates pass that literacy test. If you can't pass that test, you should not be an elected official. Dropping a wad of cash may cynically reflect how politics really works in our oligarchy, but it's a poor evaluation of anyone's fitness to appear on a ballot.

    Heck, Anne, think of the petition process as an extension of Robert's Rules of Order. A person doesn't get to be elected chairman without being nominated by someone else. One speaker cannot place a motion or an amendment into active debate without a second. You don't get to go to a meeting and just buy your way into the speaker's chair or the general debate.

  11. JeniW 2014.05.10

    I could be wrong, but I don't think Anne would care because she knows she is safe with Gant and Jackley.

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