A judge has ruled that former Republican Scott Fistler be removed from the ballot for the Democratic primary in Arizona's 7th Congressional District.
Fistler changed his name to Cesar Chavez in his bid, but he didn't end up getting kicked off because of what certainly appears like an attempt to mislead voters.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John C. Rea ruled that "Chavez" hadn't collected enough valid signatures, as some of his signatures were found to be invalid due to not being from qualified electors.
An attorney for the Torres Consulting and Law Group filed the lawsuit last week on behalf of the real Cesar Chavez's grandson, Alejandro Chavez. The lawsuit claimed there were invalid signatures, but also that "Chavez" was attempting to mislead voters, but it was the signatures that got the politician formerly known as Fistler booted off the ballot.
Torres Consulting and Law Group attorney Jim Barton said in a statement, "The stakes are too high to allow the sort of shenanigans attempted by the candidate formerly known as Scott Fistler."
"Chavez" wrote on his website that this is all on attempt by the "corporate elite" to "control an election."
"[They're] spending millions on high profile lawyers just to challenge a candidate who is a military veteran who has a passion to effect change," the website says.
12 News' Brahm Resnik caught up with "Chavez" after the hearing, and "Chavez" gave his explanation of the name-change:
— BrahmResnik (@brahmresnik) June 17, 2014
The drama over "Chavez" also led to a battle between the two candidates in the race perceived to be the front-runners, former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, and former state Representative Ruben Gallego, both Democrats.
Wilcox tried to jab Gallego by pointing out that Gallego also changed his name, in 2008.
Wilcox had supported a lawsuit claiming that Gallego was misrepresenting himself to voters with the name-change. Well, that kind of backfired for Wilcox, because Gallego changed his last name to adopt his mother's last name, since Gallego explained his abusive father left his mother when he was young.
"My opponent has used the names Ruben Marinelarena, Ruben Gallego, Ruben Gallego Marinelarena, and Ruben Marinelarena Gallego at different times for various purposes since he moved to Arizona, a few years ago," Wilcox said in her statement. "A lot has happened under each of those names, and the voters have a right to know who a candidate really is."
Our colleague Monica Alonzo pointed out that Wilcox also sometimes goes by Mary Rose Garrido Wilcox.
Meanwhile, Fistler/Chavez reportedly said he intends to appeal the decision that booted him off the ballot.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
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