Kentucky Supreme Court: Rep. Kulkarni remains eligible candidate until court can review

Republished from WEKU.

The chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court issued an order Monday that pauses an appeals court ruling last week disqualifying the candidacy of state Rep. Nima Kulkarni. The order allows the Democratic primary to proceed until the justices can review the case this summer.

A petition was filed in March to disqualify the Louisville Democrat’s candidacy due to an error on her filing with the secretary of state. A Jefferson Circuit Court ruling denied the petition, but the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed that decision and ordered that she be disqualified.

Chief Justice Laurance B. VanMeter granted Kulkarni’s motions Monday morning, ordering that the Democratic primary in House District 40 can proceed as if no challenge to her candidacy had taken place.

However, the secretary of state cannot certify the results of the primary race until the Supreme Court reviews the case this summer and comes to a decision on whether Kulkarni is an eligible candidate.

VanMeter ordered both parties to file briefs with the court by May 31. Oral arguments are scheduled to take place on June 6.

The petition to disqualify Kulkarni was filed in March by Dennis Horlander, a former Democratic state legislator who served for more than two decades in Louisville before he was defeated in the 2018 primary by Kulkarni.

At issue was the fact that one of the two required signatories to her candidate filing was a registered Republican at the time. Kentucky law states a candidate is only eligible to run in a party’s primary election if both signatories are also in the same party.

The lower court and appeals court differed on whether or not it matters that the signatory in question, Sharon LaRue, switched her party registration to Democrat shortly after Kulkarni filed her candidacy form and before the secretary of state’s office certified the candidates.

Kulkarni has argued that Horlander’s lawsuit is “a desperate attempt by my former opponent” to disenfranchise her constituents.

Horlander, known as a socially conservative legislator, was unseated in 2018 after Kulkarni defeated him by a 21-point margin in the Democratic primary that May. Horlander sought a rematch in the 2020 primary, but lost in an even larger rout, receiving 21% to Kulkarni’s 78%.

State government and politics reporting is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.