GOP Senate candidates spar over signs

A dispute between two Republican state Senate candidates over campaign signs landed before an administrative law judge today.

Bruce Schwichtenberg of Carver filed a complaint against incumbent Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, over her use of signs that include the words “Republican for Minnesota Senate.” Schwichtenberg, who is challenging Ortman in the GOP primary in Senate District 47 next week, contends the signs violate state campaign rules, since Ortman did not receive the party endorsement. Carver County Republicans decided back in May not to endorse either candidate.

Administrative Law Judge Richard Luis held a probable cause hearing on the complaint via conference call. During the call, Schwichtenberg suggested the signs are harming his campaign.

“The county convention went through the process of doing the endorsement,” Schwichtenberg said. “If being able to put the Republican word on that without a disclaimer, to me, undermines the action of that county convention.”

But Ortman disputed the allegations in the complaint.

“It is a Republican primary in a partisan race. Voters have to ask for a Republican ballot in order to vote in the election,” Ortman said. “It was never my intention to imply an endorsement that I do not have.”

Judge Luis took the complaint under advisement. He will soon decide whether to dismiss the complaint, or to rule that there is probable cause and schedule further proceedings.

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