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Bill On Filing Dates Hurts Independents

A bill approved by the House on Tuesday and sent to the Senate would require independent candidates to file for election at the same time as party candidates, which one lawmaker said would wipe out almost the only advantage independents get.

In the 1994 election, independents didn’t have to file until June 24. Candidates in the May primary election had to file by April 1.

“It merely says they should file at the same time as the partisan candidates,” said Rep. Ruby Stone, R-Boise. “This would put everybody on a level playing field.” The measure passed 51-18.

“This would take away the only advantage the independents have,” said Rep. Jim Stoicheff, D-Sandpoint. Ron Rankin, the Coeur d’Alene tax activist who ran as an independent for governor in November, denounced the bill as an attack on his political career. “This is an attempt to keep the Republicans entrenched and keep Ron Rankin and North Idaho conservatives off the ballots,” Rankin said in a Wednesday interview.

“It certainly does not say they cannot run,” Stone said. “They can get in there the same time as other people.”