Whoops! McCain fails to collect enough signatures for Indiana primary ballot
Michael Roston
Published: Thursday February 21, 2008

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Over the last month, Sen. John McCain has been steamrolling his way towards the Republican presidential nomination. But the Straight Talk Express appears to have hit a speed bump in Indiana after the senator's campaign failed to collect enough signatures to get on the state's ballot for a May 4 primary. And as the state's Republican Party and government officials fight off a challenge to McCain's placement on the ballot, the Democratic Party is accusing them of corruption.

"Despite the fact that the McCain campaign clearly failed to qualify for the ballot, Republican Attorney General Steve Carter and Republican Secretary of State Todd Rokita (who recently endorsed McCain) rubberstamped it anyway, trying to sneak McCain onto the ballot. Clearly, the Republican Culture of Corruption is alive and well within the McCain campaign," said a statement released by the DNC.

In order for a candidate to be placed on the ballot in the May 6 contest, his or her campaign must supply 500 signatures in each of Indiana's congressional districts. A blogger and Democratic activist, Thomas Cook of Blue Indiana, discovered that McCain was a number of signatures short in the state's 4th District.

"This is one of the most Republican-friendly districts in one of the most Republican-friendly presidential states," Cook wrote in a Feb. 20 blog post. "And despite all of this high-level help, these guys managed to screw up one of the most basic steps that any candidate can take in the state."

Cook proceeded to file a challenge with the Indiana Secretary of State's office to keep McCain off the ballot. He was pessimistic about the challenge's prospects, but hopeful that his move would make a point.

"This doesn't just make John McCain look silly -- and it does -- but this makes the entire Indiana Republican Party look silly. Silly, and clumsy, and inept, and generally incapable of running a national campaign, let alone the entire country," Cook added. "And while the GOP's magic wand will undoubtedly make a few signatures appear behind closed doors in the next few days, this is a clear stain upon Senator McCain as a candidate, and Governor Daniels and his Republican colleagues as standard-bearers within this state."

Late on Wednesday the McCain campaign pushed back, telling the Washington Times the current signature count was not complete.

"Basically they're looking at an incomplete count of signatures, and we're well over the 500 required in that congressional district," campaign spokesman Brian Rogers told reporter Stephen Dinan.

And on Thursday afternoon, a state GOP official insisted that there were 531 signatures, according to an AP report.

A report in the Indianapolis Star added that a decision on the challenge will be rendered on Cook's challenge by March 13.