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Judge rules Wendy Rogers' primary opponent will stay on the ballot

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge Wednesday rejected Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers’ (R-Flagstaff) attempt to disqualify her primary opponent from the ballot. 

Rogers’s complaint against state Rep. David Cook (R-Globe) alleged that many of the nomination petition signatures he turned in to qualify for the ballot were invalid. 

She also claimed that some of the circulators Cook hired committed fraud by forging signatures. 

Judge John Blanchard did throw out hundreds of Cook’s signatures — 563 of the 1,344 signatures he filed — but that left Cook with well more than the 595 he needed to qualify. 

“You’re darn right, I’m staying on the ballot,” Cook said.

The ruling ensures what is expected to be a heated primary between the more moderate Cook and far-right Rogers in Legislative District 7 which includes part of Coconino, Gila, Navajo and Pinal counties.

Three circulators were initially accused of fraud, but the case focused entirely on one, Jason Wessel, who was subpoenaed and testified that he did nothing wrong, although 40% of his signatures were thrown out.

In his decision, Blanchard also wrote that Rogers did not prove fraud. 

“Plaintiff did not present any direct evidence that circulator Wessel forged signatures, or that he knew that the signatures were invalid,” the judgment states.

Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.