ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A court referee said Thursday there’s not enough evidence to toss Republican state Rep. Bob Barrett from the November ballot over a residency dispute.
A voter connected to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party petitioned the Supreme Court to have Barrett disqualified, submitting photos of his empty home and affidavits from neighbors as evidence he actually lives outside his central Minnesota district, but Barrett contended he does.
In findings of fact released Thursday, District Court Judge George Stephenson said there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude Barrett didn’t live there — despite his own doubts about the two-term lawmaker’s residency. Barrett said he still spends time at his old house outside the district, which he and his wife are trying to sell — Barrett’s former district was altered after the 2012 redistricting, prompting him to move.
“A snapshot of two weeks, visits to a residence fewer than a dozen times between 7:30 a.m. and 9:45 p.m. and looking through two windows on two occasions is insufficient to sustain the petition,” Stephenson said of the evidence presented by Valerie Mondor, who filed the petition to have Barrett removed.
Stephenson’s findings will be weighed by the Minnesota Supreme Court when it considers the case Aug. 24. If Barrett is struck from the ballot, it would give Democrats a strong chance of a pickup in Republican territory. The GOP needs to gain seven or more seats this November to reclaim House control.
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