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November 24, 2014

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Nevada Supreme Court removes candidate from ballot over residency

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Steve Marcus

John Michael Schaefer, a candidate for Nevada state controller, appears in court during a hearing at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, April 3, 2014. Election officials want the court to remove Schaefer from the Democratic primary ballot because they contend he doesn’t meet residency requirements.

Updated Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 10:44 a.m.

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court has upheld the removal of a state controller candidate from the June primary ballot because he doesn't meet residency requirements.

Six justices unanimously agreed with a lower court ruling that Democratic candidate John Michael Schaefer is not qualified to seek the office. State law requires candidates for constitutional office to live in Nevada for at least two years before an election.

Justice Michael Gibbons recused himself from the case.

The secretary of state's office challenged Schaefer's eligibility after obtaining information that he was registered to vote in California and last year ran for the Los Angeles City Council.

Schaefer, 76, a self-professed political gadfly and Hollywood acting extra, argued he has lived in Las Vegas for decades and that candidate residency requirements are unconstitutional. In an order dated Monday, justices rejected that argument, saying state law serves a legitimate purpose of encouraging candidates for controller to "familiarize themselves with the state and its budgetary needs and constraints."

Schaefer served in the 1960s on the San Diego City Council. He lost subsequent bids for a range of offices including Nevada secretary of state, U.S. Senate from Maryland, San Francisco district attorney, California Board of Equalization and Los Angeles City Council.

Schaefer's ouster from the ballot leaves Assemblyman Andrew Martin of Las Vegas as the only Democrat in the race. Martin himself had residency issues when he first ran for the Nevada Assembly in 2012. On the eve of the general election, a Clark County judge ruled he didn't live in the district he was seeking to represent.

But Martin was elected anyway and the Democratic majority in the lower chamber allowed him to take his seat when the 2013 Legislature convened. The Nevada Constitution gives the Senate and Assembly sole authority to determine the qualifications of their members.

Three Republicans will face off in the June 10 primary to advance to the Nov. 4 general election and the chance to replace Democratic Controller Kim Wallin, who is term-limited.

Wallin is running for state treasurer.

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