A trio of judges granted state House candidate Darin Mitchell’s appeal to stay on the November ballot today, just moments before the final tally in the Legislative District 13 district meeting vote declared Rep. Russ Jones as Mitchell’s replacement.
The Court of Appeals granted Mitchell’s stay on the grounds that Mitchell was not properly served with the complaint against him five days before the trial started. Maricopa Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig had previously thrown out objections from Mitchell’s attorney over the issue.
Tim LaSota, Mitchell’s attorney said while he respectfully disagreed with Oberbillig’s ruling that Mitchell never lived in the district, he had to appeal on technicalities given the short time frame left to keep Mitchell on the ballot.
Tom Ryan, attorney for Rep. Russ Jones, who brought the complaint, rushed to the state Supreme Court to try to get the ruling overturned before 5 p.m. today, when the first set of ballots must be printed.
Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said that if the stay stays, she will start printing ballots with Mitchell’s name on them at 5 p.m. If Mitchell’s appeal is then overruled, he would remain on the ballot, but be disqualified from taking office.
The stay also voids the decision from the district’s precinct committeemen in Yuma today to select Jones to replace Mitchell on the ballot. If Mitchell is disqualified from taking office after 5 p.m. today, it would come down to a write-in candidate to fill the office, Osborne said.
Jones said he would have to discuss the issue with friends and family first, but he would likely run a write-in campaign for the office if Mitchell is disqualified, but remains on the ballot.