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Assembly candidate ruled ineligible, but it’s not over

Meghan Smith is ineligible to run as a Democratic candidate for the Assembly District 34 seat, after a judge ruled she didn’t meet the residency requirements.

The Thursday ruling by District Judge Nancy Allf makes Republican candidate Victoria Seaman, who filed the challenge, the only eligible candidate on the ballot.

Seaman filed the challenge after discovering Smith had purchased a home in the northwest Las Vegas district after she filed to run for office. Under state law, a candidate must live in a district for 30 days before filing for office.

“Justice prevailed and I believe we’re bringing honesty and integrity back into the election process,” Seaman said.

In a statement, Smith said she respects the judge’s decision, but believes it is in error.

“I disagree strongly with this ruling, and I am considering my legal options to appeal it and set the record straight,” Smith said, adding that she properly filed and met all the deadlines. Smith said she’ll continue to meet with voters to talk about issues.

For Seaman, the campaign isn’t over. Although Smith is ineligible, her name will stay on the ballot because state law doesn’t allow changes after the fourth Friday in June before the election.

Under state law, if Smith were to get more votes than Seaman, the Assembly would pick someone to fill the seat. And that someone could be her.

“We will be very prevalent in walking with all of our people in making sure everybody knows she’s been declared ineligible,” Seaman said.

Local GOP party leaders welcomed the development.

“It’s sad to see Democrat candidates perjure themselves even before they get into office,” said Nick Phillips, Clark County Republican Party’s political director, in a statement.

The District 34 seat was wide open because Assembly Majority Leader William Horne is termed out. Horne, a Democrat, was elected in 2012 with 57 percent of the vote.

Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the district. Democrats make up 43 percent of the district’s registered voters, while registered Republicans account for 31 percent of the voting block. Another 19 percent of registered voters don’t have any party affiliation. The remaining 7 percent belong to third parties.

Ineligibility for the ballot doesn’t prevent a candidate from being seated later by the Legislature.

In 2012, a district judge ruled that Democrat Andrew Martin was an ineligible candidate because of lack of residency. He won with 53 percent of the vote anyway against Republican Kelly Hurst, and the Democratically-controlled Assembly picked him for the seat.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

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