Republican John Dennis Kriegshauser dropped his election challenge today to last November's slim victory by a Democrat in Johnson County's 16th House District.
His withdrawl letter, which was read to the full House, came hours after a legislative committee charged with examining the election found that Democratic Rep. Gene Rardin of Overland Park had won the House seat by two votes.
In the letter, Kriegshauser said he had been advised that he could win the seat in a vote by the full House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 78-47.
"However, I believe that such an excercise, regardless of outcome, in today's political climate, would likely impede the thoughtful deliberation of other important matters before this body," he wrote.
He also congratulated Rardin on his election.
Kriegshauser's withdrawal means the House won't vote on the issue and avoids what could have been a bitter, partisan fight on the House floor next week that could have lingered for the rest of this year's session.
The six-member select committee reached the same conclusion as Johnson County District Court Judge Steve Tatum after a hearing last month on a challenge.
Rep. Mike O’Neal, GOP chairman of the six-member select committee, said the written report of the panel’s findings will be voted on tomorrow.The report is expected to be approved by all six committee members, three Democrats and three Republicans.
Five provisional ballots counted after election day were being challenged by Eric Carter, Kreigshauser’s attorney, because he said four of the five were cast by voters who didn’t live in the district.
Carter asked that these votes be taken away from Rardin’s victory margin, which would have made Kreigshauser the winner. The committee didn’t go along because if was unclear who those voters had chosen in the 16th District race. Their ballots had been commingled with hundreds of others.
The fifth disputed ballot belonged to a woman who voted in advance, along with her husband but they put their ballots in the wrong envelopes. The husband was able to correct his mistake in time, but the woman was not.
The judge counted the ballot anyway, including it Kriegshauser’s total, based on a sworn statement she signed as to which candidate she supported. That unopened ballot was delivered today to the committee by Brian Newby, Johnson County election commissioner, and opened. The woman had voted for Kreigshauser and Rardin’s margin of victory stood at two.
Posted by Jim Sullinger