Judge orders independent challenger off
Virginia ballot in tight race
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[September 06, 2018]
(Reuters) - A Virginia judge on
Wednesday ordered an independent candidate in a key congressional
contest removed from November's ballot, citing invalid signatures
gathered with assistance from staffers for the incumbent Republican.
Judge Gregory Rupe of the Richmond City Circuit Court ruled that Shaun
Brown should be taken off from the Nov. 6 ballot in Virginia's 2nd
congressional district, which includes Virginia Beach, the most populous
city in the state.
The race is one of several in the state that could help determine
control of Congress in November. Democrats are looking to pick up 23
seats to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives and derail
much of Republican President Donald Trump's legislative agenda.
U.S. Representative Scott Taylor is seeking re-election in the district,
which leans slightly more conservative than the country as a whole but
is considered a pickup opportunity for Democrats.
Brown ran as a Democrat for the seat in 2016, losing to Taylor, and had
sought the Democratic Party's nomination again this year before dropping
out of that race.
The effort to put Brown on the ballot as an independent candidate -
which could have siphoned votes from the Democratic nominee, Elaine
Luria - was boosted by Taylor's campaign staffers, according to
published reports. Taylor told the Washington Post in August that he
knew staffers were collecting signatures for Brown, but that he did not
direct the effort.
Taylor's campaign did not immediately comment.
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Virginia's Democratic Party sued the state in August, seeking
Brown's removal from the ballot. Local media reports found that
signatures on Brown's petition included residents who said they did
not sign, as well as names of deceased residents.
Brown submitted more than 2,500 signatures, according to the
Democratic Party's lawsuit, exceeding the required 1,000, but the
judge determined that fewer than 1,000 were valid.
"Today's decision is a win for the integrity of our elections,"
Virginia Democratic Party communications director Jake Rubenstein
said in a statement.
Brown's attorney, James Ellenson, was not immediately available for
(Reporting By David Gaffen; Editing by David Gregorio)
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