Challenge raised over Tea Party candidate |

Challenge raised over Tea Party candidate

Associated Press Writer

A U.S. Senate hopeful from the Independent American Party filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the candidacy of Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian, claiming he made a false statement when he declared his candidacy.

The suit filed by Tim Fasano of Fernley alleges that Ashjian, a Las Vegas contractor, falsely claimed he was a member of the Tea Party of Nevada when he filed his declaration of candidacy on March 1. The suit included another document, dated March 2, that appears to show Ashjian didn’t change his voter registration to that party until the next day.

The Tea Party of Nevada was officially formed as a minor party in January.

The suit filed in state court in Carson City names Ashjian, Secretary of State Ross Miller and the secretary of state’s office as defendants. It seeks a “show-cause” hearing before District Judge James Russell on why Ashjian shouldn’t be removed from the Nevada ballot.

Fasano alleged Ashjian “inappropriately stole the tea party name” and “violated the law to get on the ballot.”

His suit was accompanied by an affidavit from Debbie Landis of Anger is Brewing, a local affiliate of the national tea party, who said Ashjian is not aligned with the movement and is trying to capitalize on its conservative following.

“My issue with him is that he tried to capitalize on a situation,” Landis said, describing the tea party as an “ideal, not an organization.”

Ashjian issued a written statement calling the suit “shameful.”

“They are doing the bidding for the Republican Party. They should welcome the ability of minor parties to field candidates when the two major political parties have failed us so badly,” he said.

A record 23 candidates, including 11 Republicans, filed for the seat held by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is seeking a fifth term.

Ashjian has been painted by some as a Reid plant attempting to dilute the conservative vote in November. Ashjian has denied the allegation.

“This challenge is nothing more than another attempt to silence me, to bully me, out of a race I am committed to winning,” his statement said. “I will not step aside. Clearly these people are afraid that I will siphon votes from their political party and from the Republican Party. But I intend to earn the support of the conservative majority in Nevada and win this election.”