Jones intends to be write-in candidate for House seat
Russ Jones intends to be a write-in candidate for Legislative District 13 in the general election, going on the assumption that rival Darin Mitchell will be found ineligible by the Arizona Court of Appeals.
It's just that Jones can't actively campaign for now because of a clause in state law that precludes losing candidates in the primary election from turning around and filing as a write-in candidate for the general election — that is, unless there ends up being a vacancy on the ballot.
That's what Jones anticipates will happen when the Arizona Court rules in his lawsuit against Mitchell in late October.
Jones, an incumbent lawmaker for Yuma County, placed third in a three-way Republican race in the primary election for two seats in the Arizona House of Representatives for LD13, the newly formed legislative district that covers a wide swathe of both Yuma and Maricopa counties. There are no Democratic candidates for the offices.
In the meantime, a neighbor of the house in Litchfield Park where Mitchell said he lives contacted Jones and told him the house had been vacant for over a year. Jones filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court claiming that Mitchell should be found ineligible for the office because he doesn't actually reside in the district he is seeking to represent.
The judge ruled that Mitchell's name must be removed from the Nov. 6 general election ballot as a candidate for the district. However, on the eve of when ballots were being sent to the printers, a panel of the Appeals Court granted Mitchell's application for a stay because he hadn't been adequately served due process.
Oral arguments will be presented to the full appellate court on Oct. 22, with a decision expected by Oct. 25 on whether Mitchell will be eligible for office, said Jones' attorney, Thomas Ryan.
If Mitchell is found to be ineligible, a vacancy on the ballot would be declared and votes he receives wouldn't count.
In that case, the court would also need to rule whether Jones could run as a write-in candidate, said Matthew Roberts, director of communications for the Arizona Secretary of State.
Roberts explained that typically a candidate who loses in the primary can't be a write-in candidate for the general election because of a state law known as the “sore loser” law. So the court would have to rule whether the law would apply in this case. If Jones can run, he would need to move quickly to file by the required five days before the general election.
Questioning whether the sore loser law is even constitutional, Jones said he intends to move forward as though he is a write-in candidate even though he can't raise money at this time to campaign.
“It's a grassroots effort,” he said. “I'm asking people to stand by me. I hope people will count on the system and write in my name in anticipation of my winning the court case.”