A federal appeals court denied a request Tuesday for an emergency injunction in a lawsuit filed by two Montana Green Party candidates seeking to override a state court opinion that knocked the party off the November ballot.
“It looks as if the fat lady has finally sung and I will not be on the SD47 ballot in November as a Green Party candidate,” wrote Montana Senate hopeful Gary Marbut, one of the two candidates who filed the suit, in an email Tuesday.
Green Party candidates were struck from Montana’s ballot after people requested their signatures be removed from the petitions that qualified the party when it was revealed the Montana Republican Party had financed the qualification effort. The Green Party said it was not involved in petitioning, nor had it endorsed any candidates running as Greens this year.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an attempt by Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton to put the Green Party candidates back on the ballot, a ruling that followed the one by District Judge James Reynolds granting the requests of people to remove their signatures.
The $100,000 Republican-financed signature-gathering effort was found to have violated state campaign finance laws because the GOP did not register as a minor party qualification committee, a finding the state Republican Party disputes. Third-party candidates often siphon away votes from those in major parties; the Green Party can draw votes away from Democrats while Libertarian candidates can attract Republican voters.
Marbut and Royal Davis, a Helena-based attorney who ran as a Green candidate for attorney general, filed the federal suit. While the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday denied their request for immediate action, it granted their motion to intervene, and set a schedule for response.
But as Marbut noted in an email, “the schedule is so untimely as to telegraph the intent of the panel to ultimately deny any relief. So it’s over."