Democrat Jesse “Jake” Holder is ineligible to be a candidate in the Assembly District 10 election, Clark County District Judge Michael Villani ruled Wednesday.
The decision came in response to a complaint filed by Republican candidate Shelly Shelton who accused Holder of not living in the district, which is located in the central part of the Las Vegas Valley.
It’s the GOP’s second successful residency challenge in this election cycle. District Judge Nancy Allf ruled Oct. 16 that Democrat Meghan Smith is ineligible to be a candidate in Assembly District 34 because she failed to meet residency requirements.
Both Smith, who is appealing her case, and Holder will remain on the ballot for the November election, despite being ineligible. It’s too late to make any changes to the ballot. Voters can only vote in a qualified candidate under the law. If an ineligible candidate were to receive the most votes, the Democrat-controlled Assembly would pick someone to fill the seat, which could be the top vote-getter or someone else.
Holder disputes the residency accusation and his attorney says he has extensive documentation to prove he has met the requirements, which includes statements from residents.
However, Holder missed the brief court hearing when Villani made his ruling, showing up late with his attorney.
Holder said he plans to continue pursuing the matter legally. He was unable to present his case because the judge had already heard it, but plans to file motions seeking another hearing.
Because of the judge’s decisions, signs will be posted at early voting sites informing voters that Holder is ineligible and at sites in the district on Election Day.
Signs will go up this afternoon at early voting sites, county spokesman Dan Kulin said Wednesday.
Signs are already up informing voters of Smith’s ineligibility. Early voting ends Friday.
Shelton said she’ll continue campaigning in the final days of the campaign.
“Going forward this is a highly Democratic area, so we do still need to get out there and let the voters know and we’ll continue to do that until next Tuesday and see what the outcome is,” Shelton said.
She noted that Holder didn’t file anything to rebut the complaint before it came before the judge.
The evidence in that complaint included a sworn affidavit from the on-site manager of the Highland Villa Apartments at 505 Desert Lane, who said Holder isn’t a resident now and “has never been a resident” of the complex.
The complaint names Secretary of State Ross Miller as a defendant along with several county Elections Department officials, including Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria.
For his part, Holder stressed he has good evidence to prove his case and looks forward to resolving the matter.
Holder and his attorney, Steve Parke, stood before the judge several minutes after Shelton had already left the courtroom, with a ruling in place.
Holder told the judge that he had “short notice” for the hearing, noting that the original date was Nov. 5. He also said he had only recently hired an attorney for the matter and stressed the importance of voters having faith in the system.
Villani told him he has put his attorney in a tough spot, as the lawyer now has to get up to speed on short notice.
“It’s a simple case,” Parke said after the hearing. “It’s about whether or not he lived there for 30 days.”
The election for the Assembly seat is wide open.
Assemblyman Joe Hogan died Oct. 17 after announcing his retirement earlier this year. The Democratic lawmaker had served for five terms, winning the 2012 election with 64 percent of the vote.
The Assembly isn’t averse to picking someone who didn’t meet the residency requirements during an election to fill a seat.
In 2012, a district judge ruled that Democrat Andrew Martin was an ineligible candidate in Assembly District 9 because of lack of residency. He collected 53 percent of the vote anyway against Republican Kelly Hurst, and the Democratic-controlled Assembly picked him for the seat. Martin is now running for state controller.
Contact Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2904. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.