Candidate Larry Flenoid II for House District 132 has been forced out of the November race, due to a judge’s ruling that he failed to obtain the necessary amount of signatures for an independent candidate petition.
Citizen Linda Simkins, an active local government watcher, brought it to the attention of the Springfield Daily Citizen this morning via Twitter when she tweeted about the results of the bench trial.
Flenoid, who declined to be interviewed by the Daily Citizen Monday morning, took to Facebook to make a public statement.
“They took me off the ballot,” Flenoid said in a Facebook post. “We now rally our entire community behind Stephanos Freeman! She does not win again off our backs!!!
“Poor black people and white people are supposed to follow and not lead. This was a statement made today! Time to fight back!”
Later in the day, Flenoid posted a lengthy statement claiming the decision was “rigged” against him, and apologized to his supporters.
The trial occurred as the result of a lawsuit filed by House District 132 incumbent and Democratic candidate Crystal Quade, where she alleged Flenoid failed to obtain enough valid signatures, despite his petition being certified by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.
While the initial certified petition exceeded the minimum number of required signatures at 221, Quade’s lawsuit claimed that no more than 170 of them were valid, 43 short of the necessary threshold for Flenoid’s name to be on the ballot.
The lawsuit alleged the petitions contained signatures of individuals who do not reside in District 132 or Greene County. According to Michael Cordonnier, circuit judge for the 31st Circuit Court in Missouri, no more than 199 of the signatures were valid. Despite concluding on a different number than Quade, the judgment reaffirmed her concerns with additional issues primarily regarding their voter registration status.
“The Court now ORDERS and ADJUDGES that Defendant/Contestee Larry Flenoid II is not qualified to seek or hold the office for which he is a candidate for nomination or election or to have his name printed on the ballot,” the judgment reads.
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Springfield Democratic state Rep. Crystal Quade is fighting back against an effort to add an independent candidate to the Nov. 8 ballot and suggests that Republicans are behind the effort in hopes of driving votes away from Democratic candidates.
Quade remains concerned over Secretary of State’s certification
Despite the legal victory, Quade is still troubled by the failure of the Secretary of State’s office to catch the flaws of Flenoid’s petition.
“It remains concerning how this issue was overlooked, and a candidate was able to have their petition verified by the Secretary of State while not having received the number of verified signatures required by law,” Quade said. “This stunning dereliction of duty by Secretary Ashcroft was thankfully caught and, thanks to today’s ruling, voters can be reassured that our laws work, if their elected officials do their jobs and uphold those laws.”
Quade’s lawyer urged the court to not heed Flenoid’s motions
The ruling concluded a flurry of attempts by Flenoid to keep his candidacy alive, including a motion to dismiss the case, add the Secretary of State as a third party and a motion of continuance.
“It is clear from these filings that Contestee does not understand how Missouri’s election laws work…the Missouri Secretary of State is not a proper party to this lawsuit, there’s nothing ‘unjust’ about Missouri’s generally applicable election laws, and Contestee’s motions should be denied,” Quade’s lawyer Matthew Vianello said in the response.
This is not the first time Flenoid has submitted an improper number of valid signatures for a petition to run for political office. In 2019, Flenoid sought political office on the Springfield City Council for General Seat. Similarly to his attempt to put his name on the ballot for District 132, some of the signatures were from people who did not reside within the Springfield city limits.
The results of this lawsuit narrowed the playing field for District 132 to two candidates, Quade and Republican Stephanos Freeman. Quade is seeking her fourth and final election to the General Assembly’s lower chamber.