A Lancaster County District Judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged Secretary of State John Gale’s decision to allow the Republican gubernatorial ticket to change the name of its lieutenant governor candidate.
Judge Lori Maret stated she could not order Gale to reverse his decision, because state statute provided Gale no clear legal duty to refuse the request. [PDF of Judge Maret ruling]
The campaign of Republican Pete Ricketts made the request to substitute Mike Foley for Lavon Heidemann as the lieutenant governor candidate after Heidemann withdrew from the race. The request came after the September first deadline to make changes to the November ballot had passed. Gale ruled Ricketts’ constitutional right to name his running mate trumped state law.
Libertarian Party candidate for governor, Mark Elworth, Jr., filed the lawsuit, claiming Gale had violated state law and that Heidemann’s name should remain on the ballot.
Maret made her decision a day after hearing arguments in the case.
During a news conference this morning in his Capitol office, Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, supported Gale’s decision.
“I agree with Secretary of State John Gale and let me tell you why. The ballots haven’t been printed. Why would you print a ballot with the wrong names on it?” Heineman asked. “By constitution, the governor gets to choose his or her lieutenant governor. Pete Ricketts has made that decision. It seems to me the ballot ought to reflect both who (Democrat) Chuck Hassebrook and Pete Ricketts want as their lieutenant governor nominee.”
Heineman agreed with the Secretary that Ricketts’ constitutional right to name his running mate trumped the state deadline.
“And the ballot hasn’t been printed yet. So, why would you go print a ballot with the wrong name on it? Unless you wanted voter confusion to help win on your particular side. That’s not the way we do it in Nebraska,” Heineman stated. “We should play fair.”
Heidemann stepped down as lieutenant governor and withdrew as Rickett’s running mate after his sister received a protection order against him following a heated argument over a family dispute.
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman weighs in on ballot wording issue. [:30]