WILMINGTON, Del. (CN) - A Republican has sued to step in as the Delaware Senate candidate in place of a man who was indicted this week on 113 felony charges that he had sex with a child.
Eric Bodenweiser announced he was suspending his 2012 campaign on Oct. 12, citing personal and family reasons.
Former Georgetown Mayor Brian Pettyjohn threw his hat in the ring a week later to replace Bodenweiser on the ballot. Meanwhile the Sussex County Republican Committee tried in vain to get a hold of Bodenweiser.
Delaware Department of Elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove nonetheless refused to substitute Pettyjohn for Bodenweiser on the ballot, stating that "mere withdrawal from the race did not constitute 'physical, mental or other incapacity,'" according to the complaint in Delaware Chancery Court.
Bodenweiser's seclusion became clear on Oct. 22 when county prosecutors indicted him on 113 felony counts related to the sexual abuse of a juvenile victim.
County Republicans say that the indictment rendered Bodenweiser unable to serve if elected, giving it the right to replace him on the ballot.
Bodenweiser "suffers from 'other incapacity'" that makes him unable to serve, Pettyjohn and the county Republicans say, citing Section 3306 of Delaware law.
Manlove has allegedly insisted, however, that election preparations will proceed without a Republican candidate on the ballot.
"Upon information and belief, the Department of Elections intends to put a white sticker over the name of Mr. Bodenweiser on voting machines; however, such sticker could just as easily have the name of Mr. Pettyjohn on them," the complaint states.
The board has allegedly sent out approximately 800 absentee ballots for the 19th Senatorial District race, but no Republican candidates are listed.
"Time remains to send out corrective ballots," Pettyjohn says.
Pettyjohn, who has already started a write-in campaign on his website, wants the court to declare that his name should be placed on the ballot. He also wants a temporary restraining order to stop the state from mailing absentee ballots without his name on them.
William Manning of Saul Ewing represents Pettyjohn and the county Republicans.
They sued the Sussex County Department of Elections, the Delaware Department of Elections, Kenneth McDowell and Manlove.
Bodenweiser is reportedly being held pending bail on 39 counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and 74 counts of unlawful sexual contact. He is reportedly accused of abusing a boy between 1987 and 1990.
Before his withdrawal, the Tea Party Republican had received an endorsement from former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell.
In an interview with WGMD radio, O'Donnell said it was "tacky" for the county to press charges in "an October surprise."
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