After a narrow loss to Justine Wadsack, friends of incumbent Sen. Vince Leach, R-Saddlebrooke are filing a lawsuit to get his name on the general ballot instead of the challenger.
The lawsuit is in the name of Onita and Edward Davis, a married couple living in Oro Valley, and it claims that Wadsack lives in Tucson outside of Legislative District 17, but quickly listed an LD17 address as her own after redistricting, even though someone else lives there. Wadsack’s real address – according to the claim – is in a majority-Democrat district.
“Wadsack received the highest number of votes in the legislative district 17 primary election for state senate, and Vince Leach received the second highest number of votes. Because Wadsack is ineligible to the office, the person receiving the highest number of votes for this office is Vince Leach,” the complaint from Republican attorney Tim La Sota reads.
Edward Davis said he and Leach have known each other for a long time and Leach approached him to make the claim. Davis said he’s never spoken with La Sota.
“It’s frivolous; he’s a sore loser,” Wadsack said of the lawsuit this afternoon. She maintains that the new address is hers and accused Leach of “grasping at straws” because he is “delusional.”
Leach lost to Wadsack by just 2,168 votes in an unanticipated upset. A veteran lawmaker, Leach served as pro tempore under Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, and has served in the House and Senate since 2015.
“What we’re trying to do, is make sure we don’t have a representative for LD17 that doesn’t live in LD17,” Leach said on Thursday.
According to La Sota, the woman who lives at Wadsack’s newly listed address is called Rosa Alfonso, and she will be subpoenaed to testify to the court.
The lawsuit is in Pima County Superior Court, but names the Pinal County Boards of Supervisors, Pima County Board of Supervisors, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the two county recorders, the two county elections directors and Wadsack as defendants.
“La Sota and Senator Leach certainly believe it’s not too late. We take no position,” said Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer. He said that the suit would need to move along “pretty darn soon” as general election ballots must be sent out in just over a month.
La Sota said the deadline to make a complaint like this is five days after the county canvass, which was on Monday, so they’re on time. He doesn’t know of a case in Arizona that has gone forward where a primary loser knocked the incumbent off the general ballot between elections.
Fellow Pinal County lawmakers who lost their primary races Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Apache Junction, and Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction, want the Pinal County election entirely redone over an election day disaster that resulted in ballot shortages across several precincts, but an injunction Townsend filed to stop the election canvass was dismissed today, and Fillmore never filed a lawsuit of his own.
Townsend’s injunction against Pinal County was dismissed by the court on Thursday after the county canvass had already been conducted, to her disappointment.
Townsend subpoenaed Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, over an advertisement that Townsend said was misleading to voters, but her attorneys could not reach Rogers at the address she lists as her residence in Flagstaff. She was served in Tempe, where she works, and where she and her husband are thought to reside. Townsend considered filing a lawsuit against Rogers – the primary opponent she lost to – under the same statute – but decided against it due to the cost and the difficulty of the case.
“I’m not going to spend 50,000 dollars to lose a lawsuit because of a vague statute and a corrupt opponent,” Townsend said on Thursday. La Sota represents Rogers, and when asked about her living situation, he said he had to end the interview.
“This is delicious,” Townsend said of the situation between La Sota, Rogers and Leach.
La Sota also challenged former lawmaker Don Shooter over a similar residency issue in Yuma but lost.
Townsend said of her case, and the other residency claims over the years: “I think it’s a very difficult lawsuit to win, because of the way the statute was written. So, you can defraud the state.”