The California Court of Appeal have revived a lawsuit filed by a member of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee, challenging last year's election to that committee of a slate of Ron Paul supporters.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch had tossed the case in November, ruling that committeeman Paul Cummings Jr., of Oakland, hadn't filed it within the five-day period required after a primary election. The election was held June 3, 2008; the results were certified July 8, 2008; and Cummings filed his challenge July 25, 2008.
Cummings argued that the June 2008 vote wasn't a primary, as there's only one election for party committee posts, and the California Republican Party filed a friend-of-the-court brief on his behalf. The appeals court agreed in an opinion issued Friday, finding "that an election of party central committee members is not a primary election, and is governed by a 30-day limit to file a contest."
The appeals court remanded the case to Roesch's court for trial, where Cummings can pursue his claim that Vice Chairman Walter Stanley III, of Livermore, and six other "Constitutional Republicans" were ineligible for election to the committee because they hadn't been affiliated with the Republican Party for at least three months before their candidacy filing dates, and/or because they'd belonged to other parties within a year before filing, in violation of the state Elections Code.
Besides Stanley, other defendants in the case are committee members Casey Fargo and his wife, Lea Smart, of Livermore; David Latour, of Hayward; Deslar Patten, of Hayward; Christopher Kuhn, of Hayward; and John Bartlett, of Livermore.
All are affiliated with the Republican Liberty Caucus, a libertarian-leaning group often associated with former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. Fargo also is a former president of the Golden Gate Minutemen, an anti-illegal-immigration activist group, and Latour is a former president of the Castro Valley Minutemen.
The appeals court also rejected the defendants' arguments that Cummings lacked legal standing to file the challenge; that the courts lack jurisdiction to police party committee elections; and that Cummings couldn't sue because he didn't challenge the candidates' eligibility before the election.
Cummings said Monday he's "very gratified by the results, and I feel very vindicated."
It's a tense time in the county GOP, he acknowledged: "I'm concerned that you have people on the committee who are ineligible to be there because they were not eligible to run for office, but at the same time they're there and you can't ignore that fact. We have to work hard and work together for the good of the party."
The defendants are represented by attorney Jerry Salcido, another committee member who succeeded Stanley as chairman in July.
"I don't think the court addressed the issues as they were argued in the papers, but we're weighing all of our options — at this point we're not sure how we're going to approach it," Salcido said, adding further appeals are "definitely a possibility."
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