Judge dismisses eligibility lawsuit against Anchorage Democrat, but the suit may return

Alaska House chambers
The House chambers are seen on Friday, May 13, 2022 at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Herman Walker on Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the eligibility of Democratic state House candidate Jennie Armstrong, citing the timing of the lawsuit.

The dismissal may be temporary: Walker said the suit — which questioned whether Armstrong lived in Alaska long enough before she registered as a candidate — may be refiled once the Alaska Division of Elections certifies the result of her election.

Attorney Stacey Stone, who represents the plaintiffs, said by text message that she anticipates the case will be refiled.

As of Friday afternoon, Armstrong led Republican candidate Liz Vazquez by 10 percentage points in a head-to-head race for a West Anchorage seat in the Alaska House. Certification of the results of the race and others on Alaska’s Nov. 8 general-election ballot has been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 29. 

Four plaintiffs — all Vazquez supporters — filed suit Oct. 31 against the Alaska Division of Elections after political writer Jeff Landfield published a series of articles that identified social media posts and fishing license applications that appeared to indicate Armstrong did not become an Alaska resident until after June 1, 2019. 

State law requires a candidate to be a resident for three years before running for office.

Walker’s decision noted that state law requires candidacy challenges to be filed within 10 days of the candidate filing deadline or within 10 days of the election’s certification. 

The case challenging Armstrong’s decision fell outside either window, but plaintiffs argued that a different lawsuit, one challenging the eligibility of Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, was filed outside either window but is still advancing.

Walker acknowledged those arguments but said the Eastman challenge involves a different clause of the Alaska Constitution than the one cited for the Armstrong challenge.

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