The Buzz

Kansas City Republicans sue to knock Democrats off Missouri ballot

State Rep. Kevin Corlew, the House District 14 incumbent, testified before a Missouri House committee earlier this year.
State Rep. Kevin Corlew, the House District 14 incumbent, testified before a Missouri House committee earlier this year.

A pair of Republican state lawmakers from Kansas City have filed lawsuits claiming their Democratic rivals don’t meet residency requirements to run and should be knocked off the ballot.

State Sen. Ryan Silvey alleges in his lawsuit that Democrat J. Ranen Bechthold of Gladstone was registered to vote in Jackson County in November 2015, meaning he lived outside the Senate district where he is currently running. The state constitution says candidates for the state Senate must live in the district they wish to represent one year prior to the election.

Silvey, the 17th District incumbent, said in a statement that if Bechthold is allowed to remain on the ballot, “it will erode the trust Missourians place in their government.”

Bechthold could not be reached for comment.

State Rep. Kevin Corlew also filed a lawsuit claiming his Democratic opponent this fall, Martin Rucker of Kansas City, didn’t register to vote in the district until March 8. Prior to that he was registered to vote outside the district. The lawsuit also points to several instances, including business filings and litigation, where Rucker’s address appeared to be outside the district.

In a statement, Corlew said part of his duty as a state representative is to uphold the Missouri Constitution.

“As part of that duty, I must do what I can to protect the integrity of our elections in accordance with the constitution,” he said. “Based on publicly available information, I do not believe Mr. Rucker has resided in District 14 long enough to be constitutionally qualified to run for the office of state representative in this district.”

Rucker said the lawsuit demonstrates Corlew is “playing politics and trying to distract from the real issues to steal this election.”

“I have ample documentation proving that my residency in District 14 meets the requirements to run for the state legislature in House District 14,” he said. “This matter will be resolved shortly.”

If both Silvey and Corlew are successful in their lawsuits and knock their opponent off the ballot, they will be unopposed this November.

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock

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