PHOENIX — Republican Wendy Rogers can run for Congress in District 1 despite an error on her nominating petitions, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
Judge James Smith acknowledged that state law requires that petitions list the county of the people who are signing it. The aim is to make it easier for recorders in each county to verify the signatures of local voters.
What happened in this case is that many, if not most, of the petitions that were circulated on Rogers’ behalf were labeled as coming from Coconino County.
Her attorney, Mike Liburdi, said that was an apparent error on the part of campaign workers who thought the requirement was to list the county of the candidate’s residence.
Challenging attorney Alexander Kolodin argued that the error invalidated the petitions from other counties — there are 11 in the sprawling district — which would have left Rogers short of the signatures needed to qualify for the Aug. 28 primary.
The judge said the error didn’t confuse those who were signing the petitions.
“There is no dispute that the petitions correctly identified the candidate, the office she seeks, her party affiliation, or the date of the election,” Smith wrote.
And he said that the signers — other than those already disqualified for other reasons — all lived within Congressional District 1.
Smith did note that Pima County officials, in a statement for the court, said that getting a bunch of petitions all with “Coconino County” on the top did make it more difficult for them to analyze the signatures of their own voters. But that does not require that the signatures on the petitions from the wrong county be thrown out, the judge said.
“There is no competent evidence that any county official did not accurately review signatures,” he wrote.
Rogers, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and one of the first women pilots, will face off against state Sen. Steve Smith from Maricopa and Tiffany Shedd, an Eloy farmer and small business attorney.
Whoever survives the GOP primary will go up against incumbent Democrat Tom O’Halleran.
The congressional district is the state’s largest by geography, stretching from the state’s northern border through Flagstaff to the eastern edge of the state, then down through Graham, Greenlee and much of Pinal county, finally reaching into Marana, Oro Valley and the suburbs of Tucson.
This year’s race marks the fifth bid by Rogers to win public office.
She made a 2010 bid for the state Senate, along with bids to get elected to Congress from CD 9 in 2012 and 2014. A 2016 run for the GOP nomination in CD 1 also proved unsuccessful.