Stillwater News Press

Oklahoma News

June 18, 2010

Oklahoma treasurer candidate stays on ballot

OKLAHOMA CITY — A Democratic candidate for Oklahoma treasurer who acknowledged he lived part-time in Wisconsin for the past 10 years and even voted there once will remain on the November ballot, the State Election Board decided Friday.

The board voted 3-0 to deny a petition challenging the candidacy of Democrat Stephen Covert of Midwest City. The petition was brought by Republican candidate Owen Laughlin, a former state senator.

Covert, the only Democrat in the race, acknowledged he bought a home in Racine, Wis., while he worked in that state, but he said he also kept a home in Midwest City and traveled regularly between the two.

“I thought it was more convenient to own a home and fly back on the weekends,” Covert said.

He also said he voted in Wisconsin in the 2000 general election.

“If that doesn’t make him a resident, at least for that period of time, I don’t know that anything does,” Laughlin said.

The Oklahoma Constitution requires candidates for statewide office be qualified to vote there for 10 years before the election.

But Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader told the board there was no evidence Covert had an “intent to abandon” his Midwest City residence.

Laughlin faces state Rep. Ken Miller in a July 27 Republican primary. The winner will face Covert in the Nov. 2 general election.

The board voted to strike from the ballot Jason Williford, an independent candidate for Senate District 24, after he failed to show up for the hearing. Williford’s opponent, State Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, claimed Williford lived outside the district.

Another independent, Ray Prewitt, was stricken from the ballot in the race for House District 84 in Oklahoma City after the board determined he changed his voter registration after a six-month deadline preceding his filing for office in June.

Ronald Buck, an independent state Senate candidate from Ponca City, was stricken from the ballot after he failed to submit a required $250 payment for candidates who are challenged. With Buck’s disqualification, state Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City, will retain the District 20 Senate seat in northern Oklahoma unchallenged.

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