Monday, August 23, 2010

How Conservative Republicans Played the Inept, Bumbling Arizona Green Party and Took It Over

The Arizona Green Party today issued this press release:
Arizona Green Party (AZGP) announces endorsed candidates for 2010 elections
The following Green Party candidates have been endorsed by AZGP. We encourage registered voters in Arizona to vote for, support, volunteer, and donate to their campaigns:

1.Jerry Joslyn: U.S. Senate;
2.William Crum: U.S. Congress (CD 2); write-in candidate for General Election;
3.Leonard Clark: U.S. Congress (CD 3); write-in candidate;
4.Rebecca DeWitt: U.S. Congress (CD 4);
5.Deborah O'Dowd: State Representative (LD 6); write-in candidate;
6.Justin Dahl: State Representative (LD 12);
7.Luisa Valdez: State Representative (LD 15);
8.Angel Torres: State Representative (LD 16);
9.Gregor Knauer: State Representative (LD 17);
10.Linda Macias: State Representative (LD 21);
11.Kent Solberg: State Representative (LD 27);

The following Green Party candidate has been vetted, but remains non-endorsed by AZGP. If he is successful in the Primary Election, we may reconsider endorsing him for the General Election.

1.Richard Grayson: U.S. Congress (CD 6); write-in candidate;

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

There are several Green Party candidates that are actively opposed. We strongly advise all registered Arizona voters to not waste their votes on these individuals during the August 24th Primary Election or the November 2nd General Election (assuming they advance). The offices include: Governor, Secretary of State (write-in), Treasurer (write-in), Corporation Commission (2 write-in candidates), U.S. Congress (CD 5, write-in), State Senate (LD 10, 2 write-in candidates), State Representative (LD 17, write-in), State Senate (LD 17, write-in), State Representative (LD 20, write-in), State Representative (LD 22, write-in), and State Senate (LD 23, write-in).

If you don't understand why a political party would actively oppose so many of its own candidates, including its candidate for Governor, upon whose vote totals the party is dependent for maintaining continued ballot presence in Arizona, perhaps this memo to Green Party candidates from a week ago will explain what happened:
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010

Green Party candidates:

At yesterday's skype meeting I gave a report about the current status of the carpetbagger candidate situation. I just sent you the first of two parts of that report, and this is the second. The part below contains information from the perspective of the Arizona Green Party, and some of it is confidential, so please do not share it except talking among AzGP SC members or endorsed candidates.

But we particularly need input from candidates about where to go next, so please respond. Time is short before we have to either act, or not act, so think it through, but give your input in the next day or two.


As you know, a number of candidates who have signed-up to be write-ins in our August 24 AzGP primary are strangers to us. But there are three things about them that we DO know:

1. None of them has anything Google can uncover about them [no paper trail],
2. They were all Rs the day before, and
3. Derek Lee, who gathered signatures, through his professional company, for Larry Gist [the pirate who is on the ballot as our candidate for governor], is now the campaign manager for Gist, AND for at least some, and possibly all, of the others. It is unclear whether Derek organized all this at his own behest, in the hopes of raking in Clean Elections monies for advising their various campaigns, or by somebody who is paying him to do this mischief, or -- well, whatever else would explain it.

Regarding Gist, we had hoped to field a write-in against him, and defeat him in the primary, replacing him with someone who would use that megaphone to really run a Green campaign, and provide some coat tail for our other candidates, or at least not embarrass the party in the way that we are fearful Mr Gist will. It didn't happen. We approached a number of possibles, and they all had good personal reasons why it could not be.

But the problem with Mr Gist has been eclipsed by the staggering number of similar unknowns who are now pirating our ballot line, by filing on July 15, at the last minute, so that we would have no chance to oppose them. If Arizona law were even-handed [read that as "constitutional"], we could still remove them, by the simple expedient of contacting Geen Party registrants, and telling them NOT to write these guys in. The Democrats had the same idea, and even contacted us offering to pay for such a mailing, since these pirates will be spoiling races which their candidates might otherwise win.

However, ARS § 16-645 D would make such a letter, by itself, merely symbolic, because this statute allows, in our Party and only in our Party, for a person to become a Green the day before, submit write-in documents on the last possible day and minute, and then, unopposed, elect himself to the November 2 ballot. All by the expedient of having a single vote-- his own-- cast in the form of a write-in, on the August 24th ballot.

We have been silent about this statute, which is tucked away in a section of the statute book about 200 pages from the sections dealing with write-ins, candidates, signatures, etc. It is in the section that has bureaucratic formulas for the process that county election officials follow in canvassing the vote, and reporting the results to the SoS, who then puts them on the November ballot.

Some of you have asked why we didn't tell you all about this provision, to save you having to get signatures. The answer is three-fold. One is that we did not want the information publicized, because we did not want the very problem we now confront-- pirates.

Second is that it would have made it impossible for the candidates who are going to be Clean Elections qualified to do so in time. Third is that we don't think it is constitutional, and if we had used it, all acting at the last minute, all of our candidates could have been challenged in court, and bumped off the ballot, making all our ballot access signature gathering worthless.

So we've been looking for an attorney with federal court election experience, to see if we can make the challenge ourselves, and bump the pirates. NOTE: If we talk about this, the pirates will know that they have to get more votes than just their own, and will set about to do so-- a quick mailing to all the registered Greens in the state. Derek Lee is easily set up to pull that off. So DO NOT TALK ABOUT IT, except among ourselves.

Ten talks have been:
1. To the law firm that represented us Arizona Green Party v Bennett. They agreed about the law, but they only have 4 lawyers, and only one is an election lawyer, and they are already committed to a case elsewhere, that is going to take all his time for the next two months.
2. To a contact in the Arizona Libertarian Party. They pursued a successful lawsuit a few years back, to overturn the law about open primaries, as it regarded to them. They won. The bad news is that they had to pay the lawyers up front.
3. To contacts within the Arizona Democratic Party, including their lawyer, pointing out that they cannot achieve their stated desire -- to protect their candidates from a spoiler effect by persons who are not even serious candidates, unless we join them in a lawsuit, funded by them, to overturn this statute. Waiting for a response.

We are not adverse to spoiling races in order to run our candidates, as that is what makes democracy work, unless a run-off or instant/same ballot run-off is used to tally votes. But the Arizona Green party does not spoil races for the sport of it. So we offered, instead, to be plaintiffs in a federal suit to toss this law out.

So here are the choices:
1. If we get a lawyer, we go forward. We may or may not win [I'd call our odds 60-40]. The downside is that we might lose our own, endorsed write-ins, if they don't get enough Greens to write them in under the rule that applies to all other political parties. The upside is that we won't have to deal with these carpetbaggers again, and any pirates trying to board the Green ship in the future will know that we can stop them.

2. If we don't get a lawyer, we call a press conference as soon as these turkeys become official, and we denounce them, denounce those who sent them our way, denounce those who wrote the law, denounce derk lee, denounce the Ds for not caring enough about their own candidates to fight this. We'll feel better, and it will at least not be the press ferreting it out with their own spin on it. But the downside is that we will be in the position, in November, of asking the average voter to remember which Green Party candidates are the endorsed candidates, and which the pirates. We end up hurting our own, endorsed candidates. It's kind of like when a weed grows to closely to the crop that you can't pull the one without getting the other. So you wait til the harvest, when you can better deal with it.

3. We do as little as possible now on the negative side, and just work doubly hard for our endorsed candidates. And we challenge the law later, when we have the time.

Candidates, what are your comments?

claudia ellquist

ARS § 16-645 D "Except as provided in subsection C of this section
[about precinct committeemen --ce], a certificate of nomination shall not
be issued to a write in candidate of a party which has not qualified for
continued representation on the official ballot pursuant to ARS 16-804
[this would be us --ce] unless he receives a plurality of the votes of
the party for the office for which he is a candidate."