A candidate for public office petitioned for a writ of mandate challenging the opposing candidate’s ballot statements as misleading. The petition was dismissed on the merits; then the real party’s (opposing candidate’s) AntiSLAPP motion was denied as moot and his separate motion for a private attorney general fee award was denied on the ground he had not shown his defense of the suit involved an important right affecting the public interest and conferred a significant public benefit. Held, the trial court erred in denying the Anti-SLAPP motion as moot. An Anti-SLAPP motion must be decided even after the merits of the suit have been determined because if successful the Anti-SLAPP movant is entitled to attorney fees. Also, the trial court erred in finding this suit fell within the CCP 425.17(b) as a suit in the public interest since CCP 425.17(d)(2) excepts from that exemption any suit based on a political work, which the candidate statement was. On the merits, the Anti-SLAPP motion should have been granted. A candidate statement is protected speech, and the intervening and unappealed dismissal of the petition established that the complaint lacked probable merit. In addition, the trial court erred in holding that the defense did not enforce an important public right and confer significant public benefits. Election law litigation inherently involves public rights, and if successful the suit would have deprived the public of important information about the candidates’ views. The opinion remands the case for the trial court to determine whether the rest of the requirements for a private attorney general fee award were satisfied.