JUNEAU, Alaska — A northern Alaska lawmaker who filed a lawsuit challenging his defeat in the primary election says he no longer wants to participate in the legal battle.
Democratic Rep. Benjamin Nageak of Barrow said Wednesday there are other people who can speak on his behalf. He announced his decision to pull out of the lawsuit while testifying via phone in Anchorage Superior Court, The Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/2dvUF3D).
“I can’t do anything with it,” Nageak said. “I need help, and I think there’s people out there who can do that for me, to speak on my behalf.”
The trial for the lawsuit began this week and comes after a recount of the August House District 40 race confirmed Democrat Dean Westlake beat Nageak by eight votes.
Nageak’s attorney has filed several motions since last week, including one to remove Nageak from the lawsuit and another that reversed that decision.
Judge Andrew Guidi, who is overseeing the case, said in a Wednesday order that Nageak may have to testify again Thursday if questions remain about his involvement.
Under Alaska law, an election can be challenged by a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters.
The original complaint against the state listed four District 40 voters in addition to Nageak. In a Sept. 23 amendment, Nageak was removed from the lawsuit and seven district residents were added as plaintiffs as well as former state GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich, who does not live in District 40.
That amendment was later reversed, leaving Nageak and fourth North Slope voters as plaintiffs.
The lawsuit can move forward without Nageak’s involvement if Guidi accepts the plaintiffs’ substitution.
The trial is expected to continue through the end of the week.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com