Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kacey Cordes Loses Election Suit in Circuit Court; Vows to Appeal

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 6:01 AM

A St. Louis circuit judge sided with the city's board of elections yesterday, refusing to order the board to place independent candidate Kacey Cordes on the April mayoral ballot. In fact, wrote Judge Joan Moriarty, "It would be absurd to interpret ... the city code as [Cordes] argues."

A spokesman for Cordes said she would appeal the ruling.

Yesterday's ruling was only the latest chapter in a candidacy that has faced some hurdles since its public rollout last month.

Cordes turned in the filing fee for mayoral candidates, but did not turn in the signatures that usually accompany the fee. She says that a whisper campaign by some Democrats (and the Board of Elections' silence, even in the face of repeated questions) left some voters leery of signing her petitions, since party operatives had argued that doing so meant losing the right to vote in the March 7 Democratic primary. And she argued that the law gave her an pass: Confusing language in the city ordinances meant that, unlike "non-partisan" candidates, "independent" ones like her didn't need signatures after all.

But Moriarty didn't buy it.

"In effect," the judge wrote, if Cordes' argument was accepted, "the need for a primary election would be diminished, as candidates would be incentivized to simply declare as an 'independent' candidate, pay the fee ... and have their name placed on the ballot." And that, Moriarty wrote, quoting a prior Missouri Supreme Court ruling, would leave a ballot that was "unduly long and confusing to voters."

In sum, Moriarty wrote, Cordes "has not shown that the Board failed to perform a ministerial duty imposed by law." With that, she turned down the campaign's request for a writ of mandamus — leaving Cordes forced to try to persuade the appellate court to take up her cause.

Cordes had hoped to be a progressive alternative to Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, a centrist who won the Democratic primary last week, taking just 32 percent of the vote in a crowded field.

Another person who toyed with taking on Krewson in the general, state Rep. Bruce Franks (D-St. Louis), decided last week he wouldn't be running as a write-in after all. And with Cordes' candidacy down to a hail mary, Democratic Party operatives, undoubtedly, were feeling good last night.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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