A former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Virginia filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against his party and the commonwealth after the state GOP found that he didn’t obtain the required number of signatures to be listed on the June 12 primary ballot.
Ivan Raiklin wants a court to order a freeze on printing primary ballots without his name on them and wants a possible delay in the primary date, when the party will choose a nominee to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Raiklin, of Fairfax County, is representing himself in the civil lawsuit, which names as defendants John Findlay, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia; Chris Piper, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections; the Elections Department and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.
The lawsuit stems from a Republican Party decision in March that Raiklin didn’t gather enough signatures of registered voters in Virginia to make it onto the ballot.
Candidates needed 10,000 signatures of qualified voters, including 400 from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.
“Unfortunately, many of the signatures collected in the Ninth Congressional District were not valid, and for that reason, you were disqualified,” the state Republican Party wrote to Raiklin on his Facebook page in March.
Raiklin’s lawsuit alleges the party made mistakes and says Findlay was hostile toward his campaign . “Particularly the way he interacted with my staff without my presence. Disrespectful with expletives,” Raiklin texted state GOP Chairman John Whitbeck in late March, according to the filing.
Raiklin’s team took the signatures to the Republican Party headquarters in downtown Richmond on March 28, ahead of the filing deadline of March 29 at 5 p.m. After some of the signatures were verified, Findlay told Raiklin’s team they’d need to return the next day to continue the check. Raiklin asked Whitbeck to intervene, but he would not, according to the filing.
The 9th Congressional District covers the far Southwest region of the state. Raiklin alleges that the party illegally disqualified a significant number of signatures from that district using faulty GOP data rather than state voter data. He also alleges Findlay didn’t verify his signatures in a timely manner, which would have given him time to gather more before the deadline.
Raiklin alleges the Department of Elections violated the Constitution by refusing to hear his appeal, and he challenges the constitutionality of a state law that says a signature is invalid if the address provided by the signer is not in the same voting precinct as state data for that voter.
In a statement from spokesman John March, the party responded: “RPV certified all candidates who qualified after the review of petition signatures required by the Code of Virginia. Beyond that, we do not comment on pending litigation.”
The candidates who did make it onto the primary ballot are state Del. Nick Freitas of Culpeper, minister E.W. Jackson of Chesapeake, and Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.
Raiklin alleges in his lawsuit that Whitbeck called him on March 29 and said that “depending on how you take this will determine your political future.” The suit says Whitbeck “also urged Raiklin that his next call after hanging up with Whitbeck should be to Delegate Nick Freitas.”
In a meeting with two reporters outside the federal courthouse in Richmond, Raiklin declined to discuss that allegation.
The state GOP said the conversation didn’t happen.
March said by email: “Recently, Ivan Raiklin accused RPV leadership of telling him to contact another candidate for Senate after he failed to make the ballot. To be very clear, Mr. Raiklin’s statement is false and no such conversation happened.”
March added that in a follow-up meeting after the filing deadline, Raiklin requested the party allow him to get on the ballot “because he believed he was the only one who could defeat Tim Kaine.”
The party denied that request, March said.
Isaac Smith, a political activist in Charlottesville who had been involved in defending the Robert E. Lee statue there, said he is advising Raiklin and supporting him in his lawsuit.