Judge rejects Alaska Democrats' lawsuit over primary process

JUNEAU -- A superior court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Alaska Democratic Party over the state denying the party's request to allow candidates not affiliated with a political party to run in the Democratic primary.

Judge Louis James Menendez released his decision Monday in favor of the state's motion to dismiss the case. In his order, Mendendez wrote that the dismissal is appropriate because the Alaska Democratic Party has not yet approved its own rules allowing independents on the party ballot, the Juneau Empire reported.

The decision is not expected to be made until May at the party's statewide convention.

"ADP's exhibits ... make clear that ADP's rule change allowing independent and non-affiliated candidates to run in the Democratic primary is only a proposed rule change at this point in time," Menendez said. "Any such rule change ... will not be known to the parties or the court until the upcoming state convention, taking place in May of 2016."

The Alaska Democratic Party had sued in February after Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said state law prohibited independent candidates from running in the Democratic primary. The state's motion to dismiss the case came in March.

Jon Choate, an attorney for the party, said they are still deciding whether they will file an appeal or wait until after the convention to refile the case.

"That's a decision we'll be making in the next several days," he said. "In either situation, the superior court would still have to make a determination on the merits ... at some point."

Monday's decision will only affect independent U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Stock, who is running against Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.