Democrats won’t challenge Young’s candidacy in court

Time is dwindling for opponents of U.S. Rep. Todd Young to challenge in court a deadlocked decision last month by the Indiana Election Commission that keeps Young on the ballot for U.S. Senate.

Indiana election officials say there is about one week left to file a court challenge. With early voting set to begin April 5, the Indiana Democratic Party has said it will not take Young to court, but the rival GOP primary campaign for U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman has not yet announced its plans.

The race to fill the seat of GOP Sen. Dan Coats, who is retiring, could have national implications as Democrats seek to retake control of the Senate. That would require a net gain of four Senate seats and also that a Democrat win the White House so that a Democratic vice president would break Senate ties. The Indiana Democratic nominee for Senate is former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill.

Democrats, as well as the tea party-backed Stutzman, had challenged Young's candidacy, arguing that he hadn't gathered the 500 required petition signatures from each of the state's nine congressional districts. An Associated Press analysis of Young's petitions found he was three signatures short in northwestern Indiana's 1st Congressional District.

Stutzman's campaign manager and attorney did not immediately respond to messages Monday morning.

Last week, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody had said Democrats would not take Young to court. "After thoroughly exploring all options and what is best for our candidates and party moving forward, the Indiana Democratic Party will not pursue legal action," Zody said Friday.

The four-member election board deadlocked in a 2-2 party-line vote last month after hearing arguments from Democrats and Stutzman, who was later criticized by the GOP establishment for appearing alongside Democrats during the challenge. A majority vote was needed to remove Young from the ballot.

Republican board members said they believed Young's campaign relied in good faith on counts of petition signatures submitted by county clerks and that shouldn't cause voters to lose the chance to consider "serious and viable candidates."

"It seems to me if there is any question, we should error on the side of enfranchisement rather than disenfranchisement," Republican Bryce Bennett, the commission's chairman, said at the time.

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