A District Court judge in Clark County ruled Friday against eight Bernie Sanders supporters who sued the Nevada State Democratic Party’s executive board, alleging party officials didn’t properly notify them of an important change in application deadlines to run for leadership positions at the state party convention Saturday.
District Judge Ronald Israel denied the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction that would have required the state party to allow candidates who applied before April 29 to be on the ballot at the convention. Israel also granted the state party’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
The decision handed a victory to the State Democratic Party on the eve of its convention.
Israel made the decision after hearing from attorneys for both sides. He said there are other ways for the plaintiffs to pursue the issue outside the court process, including at the convention itself or by contacting the Democratic National Committee.
Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, is running against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton won the February caucuses in Nevada.
The case alleged that an initial set of election rules drafted by the state party and sent out said the filing deadline was April 29 for those running for party leadership posts. The deadline was “quietly changed” a week later to April 25, according to the lawsuit, which says people were misinformed with the wrong date.
Robert Kern, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs, told the judge they were simply asking for the rules to be followed, not change how the party is run.
“It is not inappropriate to say the party must hold to its own rules,” Kern said.
But the state party maintained that the confusion stemmed from a Sanders supporter on the party’s executive board who improperly shared an earlier draft of convention with the wrong deadline. The deadline was posted on its website on April 17 and emailed to state convention delegates and alternates the next day, the party said.
After the ruling, Kern said the only arguments the opposing side made were that they shouldn’t be hold to its standards.
“We all did this because we think it’s the right thing to do,” Kern said.
In a statement, the Nevada State Democratic Party said, “This frivolous lawsuit was an unnecessary distraction to our shared goals as Democrats, and we’re pleased the court dismissed it today.
“In his decision, the judge disputed essentially every argument from the plaintiffs, denied their request for a preliminary injunction, and agreed that the State Party had not done anything wrong in setting rules and deadlines for our internal elections. The judge determined that the State Party’s procedures, notice, and nominations processes were entirely fair and appropriate. As we said all along, this lawsuit was purely political and in no way based in state law,” the party’s statement said.
The party said it’s looking forward to a smooth state convention this weekend and has Clinton and Sanders supporters running for its executive committee.
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