The Republican Party didn’t plan on arguing Thursday that the lawsuit brought by Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz lacked jurisdiction, but Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy said Superior Court Judge Michael Sheldon urged them to make the argument.
“We were pressed by the judge to make the argument,” Healy said.
Bysiewicz, who is seeking the court’s decision on whether she is qualified to run for attorney general, wants the court to say she’s qualified so she can let the Democratic delegates know its okay to vote for her at the convention, Eliot Gersten, the attorney for the Republican Party, said.
“Why else are we on this fast track?” Gersten said. “So the candidate can use it to her advantage.”
He said the court hasn’t heard anything from the Democratic Party, which is one of the defendants in the case, concerning the number of delegates that may be concerned about their vote at the convention. And there’s no one saying she can’t run. He said the Democratic Party even has an internal rules process for deciding disputes at the convention.
“We haven’t heard from one delegate in this case,” Gersten said.
Wesley Horton, Bysiewicz’s attorney, said based on the last 24-hours of emails he doesn’t even think the Republican Party is serious about this issue.
He said if this issue is raised after the election in November there will be people who wasted their vote because under statute if an attorney general is disqualified then the position is appointed by the governor.
He said if the time to file the lawsuit is between the primary and the general election and the court finds she’s not qualified then the Democratic Party would have to rush to put somebody up for the position, giving the Republican Party a better shot at the seat.
“This legal issue needs to be cleared up before the convention,” Horton said.
“Is there a serious cloud on her right to run for this office?” Horton said. If the answer is ‘Yes’, then he suggested it‘s an appropriate issue for the court to decide.
Gersten added that the reason courts hold trials is to put on evidence and there’s no evidence regarding the dilemma of the delegates. He said they keep talking about the candidate have a “cloud” on her candidacy, but they offered no proof of that. When he was asked to argue one of the special defenses he has filed Gersten said the matter was not only filed too early, but it was also filed too late. He said she should have filed the lawsuit before declaring her candidacy.
“This is the first time in 39 years of practice I’ve heard that the plaintiff’s action was brought too early and if it wasn’t brought too early it was brought too late,” Horton said.
After less than an hour of arguments Thursday, Judge Sheldon said he would issue a decision in the case with “all deliberate speed,” but did not offer any firm time table.