IN Focus: Ballot battle threatens Todd Young’s campaign for Senate

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 14, 2016)-- What a week in the race for U.S. Senate here in the Hoosier State.

With Eric Holcomb out of the race to become Gov. Pence's new running mate, two GOP candidates are left, Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman.

But now Indiana Democrats and Stutzman are filing a challenge to Young's candidacy.

They question whether he has enough valid signatures to be on the ballot.

The Indiana Election Division says candidates must submit 500 validated signatures in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts.

The Indiana Democratic Party says Young's campaign submitted 498 in the 1st district, in northwest Indiana.

In a statement Tuesday night, Young's campaign manager Trevor Foughty says they have met the requirements:

"Todd Young has clearly met the requirements to be listed on the ballot. Our campaign submitted more than enough ballot petition signatures in each congressional district. Further, clerks in all 92 counties verified the validity of those signatures. At this point, any attempt to disenfranchise voters would be unfortunate, underhanded and ultimately unsuccessful."

Stutzman's campaign manager Josh Kelley also issued a statement Tuesday:

“Todd Young’s inability to gather sufficient signatures is a real concern to countless Republicans our team has spoken with today. Todd Young’s team has seemed more focused on garnering establishment support in DC and raising money from corporate interests than in meeting with Hoosiers and engaging in a meaningful grassroots effort here in Indiana. Either Young is not focused, or he simply fails to connect with voters. Either way Young is not prepared to run a statewide campaign... Congressman Stutzman had the ground game to gather the most signatures statewide of any candidate in this race. Our team is hitting on all cylinders and ready to deliver in May and in November.”

Foughty responded with another statement on Wednesday:

"Indiana Democrats know they can't beat Todd Young in an election, so they are making a desperate attempt to keep him off the ballot by disenfranchising the Hoosier voters who put him there. It won't work.

"Our campaign turned in nearly 650 signatures in the 1st District. County clerks and the Indiana Election Commission verified we had the requisite number of validated signatures before we ever filed the ballot paperwork. We believe the actual number of valid signatures there is even higher than was verified.

"We are confident that at the end of this process, the Election Commission will reject the blatantly political gamesmanship of the Indiana Democrat Party. Todd Young will not only be on the ballot in May, but will be the Republican nominee and ultimately Indiana's next U.S. Senator."

Stutzman himself issued a statement later in the week, saying:

“15 other Republican and Democrat candidates fulfilled the requirement of Indiana law for the 2016 election. Todd Young must accept responsibility for his own campaign and drop the accusations of partisan politics. If Todd has more than 500 signatures he should be on the ballot, but if reliable Indiana media sources are correct and he has failed to meet the minimum number of signatures required to be a candidate for the United States Senate, then the rule of law must be followed.”

The matter could go before the election board at a hearing on February 19.

In the video above, IndyStar reporter Tony Cook discusses the situation, and what he found upon doing his own count of Young's submitted signatures.