Wisconsin Supreme Court orders election officials to put Phillips on presidential primary ballot

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered state elections officials Friday to include U.S. Rep Dean Phillips on the state’s Democratic presidential primary ballot, finding that Democrats on a bipartisan presidential selection committee who left him off the ballot without a discussion should have at least talked about him.

The unanimous ruling means President Joe Biden will have Phillips as a challenger on the April 2 ballot.

“Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck a blow against the anti-democratic attempts by Biden allies to unlawfully keep Congressman Dean Phillips off the ballot,” Phillips campaign officials said in a statement. “Voters in Wisconsin will now have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

The Biden campaign didn’t immediately respond to a message.

Phillips, who represents neighboring Minnesota in Congress, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 26 demanding the Wisconsin Elections Commission add his name to the ballot after Democratic leaders on the selection committee left him off it following a meeting on Jan. 2.

Phillips argued in his lawsuit that he met the test in Wisconsin law for gaining ballot access that says a candidate must be “generally advocated or recognized in the national news media.” State Justice Department attorneys representing the elections commission countered that the committee has sole discretion to decide who gets on the ballot.

The court found that the committee failed to properly exercise any discretion. Democrats listed Biden as their only candidate and approved adding him to the ballot without any discussion during a meeting that last only five minutes.

“We conclude that the Presidential Preference Selection Committee erroneously exercised its discretion under (state law) with respect to Phillips,” the ruling said.

Phillips is running a longshot bid to defeat Biden. He is the only Democrat in elected office who is challenging Biden.

Biden easily won last month’s New Hampshire primary as a write-in candidate, with Phillips getting about 20% of the vote. Phillips has been certified to appear on the primary ballot in other states.

The Wisconsin selection committee also placed former President Donald Trump and five other Republican challengers, including four who have since ceased campaigning, on the ballot.

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