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ha_ted_beth_gaines19367(2).JPGA Sacramento Superior Court judge today rejected an attempt to block 4th Assembly District candidate Beth Gaines from calling herself a "small business woman" on the upcoming special election ballot.

Judge Timothy M. Frawley did not rule on the merits of the case against the Roseville Republican, but said the rival campaign filing the lawsuit missed the deadline for challenging the ballot designation.

"It is an interesting question that is raised, but I think at this point any order that I would make (to change the ballot designation) would ...severely disrupt the election," he said during a 15-minute hearing today.

Gaines, who is seeking to fill the seat vacated by her husband Ted Gaines' election to the state Senate, bases her job description on work for two family-run companies. Republican candidate John Allard filed on Thursday a lawsuit alleging Gaines' ballot designation was misleading, evidenced by her failure to list income from those positions on her financial disclosure forms.

"The critical issue here has to do with the integrity of the ballot process and making sure the ballot designation (complies with) provisions of the election code," Allard attorney Stephen Greene said.

Frawley said he saw a "credible argument" about whether Gaines was eligible to keep the approved ballot designation, but said he would need additional arguments and time to rule on the merits -- time that the election calendar does not allow.

"It's so late in the process to be thinking about that question," he said.

Ballot designations were circulated Jan. 26 and certified along with he list of candidates on Monday, the deadline for challenging ballot language. Attorneys for Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Placer County election officials both said the process for approving and printing ballots had already begun for the March 8 special primary.

Gaines consultant Dave Gilliard said after the hearing that the judge's order showed the lawsuit was both untimely and frivolous.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, is sworn in as his wife, Beth Gaines, holds the bible for him in the Senate chambers by Superior Court Judge Donald J. Courrier on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee



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