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Arizona Corporation Commission ballot down to 2 Republicans

May 15, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court has disqualified Kim Owens from the Corporation Commission primary ballot, leaving only two Republicans in a race to fill three seats.

Owens, an executive for Gordon C. James Public Relations, faced two legal challenges to her nominating petitions, with lawsuits arguing that many of the signatures she had gathered were signed by ineligible voters, signed incorrectly or were duplicates.

A Superior Court judge had ruled that she had 6,670 valid signatures, just seven votes more than she needed, but the state Supreme Court reversed the decision Thursday.

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A panel of justices argued that Owens convinced the lower court judge that many of the signatures were valid based on GOP data center records, but “Owens failed to make the Data Center records available, nor were the records offered or received into evidence.”

The court ruled there was no reasonable evidence to conclude that enough of the signatures were valid.

“It’s always unfortunate when the voters aren’t the ones to determine who will represent them,” Owens said, adding that she was reviewing the court order.

The removal of Owens came a day after Commissioner Boyd Dunn was bumped from the race in a dispute over qualified signatures.

The rulings leave Eric Sloan and incumbent Lea Marquez Peterson as the only Republicans running for the five-member board, which regulates utilities and sets electric rates for millions of Arizona residents.

A Republican would need to launch a successful write-in campaign and win at least 6,663 votes in the primary to win the party’s nomination and give the party a full slate of candidates for the general election.

Otherwise, Republicans would effectively forfeit a seat on the commission to one of the three Democrats also in the running.