Missouri Special Election Candidate Says Opponent’s Husband Signed Petition for an Independent, and Feels that is Scandalous Behavior

Missouri is holding a special election to fill the vacant 8th district State Senate seat on November 7, 2017. There are three candidates on the ballot, a Republican, a Democrat, and an independent. According to this story, the Republican nominee has charged that his Democratic opponent’s husband signed the petition for the independent candidate. The Republican nominee feels this is scandalous behavior.


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Missouri Special Election Candidate Says Opponent’s Husband Signed Petition for an Independent, and Feels that is Scandalous Behavior — 19 Comments

  1. My father, a moderate Republican who was once the nominee to a state house seat here in Indiana, once signed a petition for a socialist candidate to get on the ballot in the 70’s or 80’s. How is supporting the right of another candidate to get on the ballot anything close to scandalous? This Republican is just insane.

  2. THE nonstop SCANDAL since 4 July 1776 is ALL the minority rule gerrymander systems —

    1/2 or less votes x 1/2 rigged districts = 1/4 or less CONTROL.

    PR and AppV

    Candidate/member Replacement lists — NO more very expensive low low low turnout special elections.

  3. Apparently the fear is that the third candidate is a straw candidate to draw votes from one of the others. IMO, ranked choice voting can overcome this problem by transferring the votes from the third candidate to the voter’s second choice.

  4. An oddity is that he had exactly the number of signatures needed (629). This was determined after a court challenge of roughly 900 submitted – and the close scrutiny is likely why it was found that Mitch Shields (the husband) had signed the petition. I don’t understand why Hillary Shields (the wife/candidate) was even asked about her husband’s political activities. It is perhaps sad that he does not support her political aspirations.

    Jacob Turk has been the Republican candidate for Congress for the past six elections (2006-2016), in what was essentially a no hope district before 2012, when the loss of a congressional district forced a Kansas City district to be drawn further out into the countryside.

    Because it is a special election, the party bosses chose the nominees. Turk had sought the Republican nomination, and is running as an independent after losing the nomination. In 2014, the Republican candidate for the senate district was unopposed. In 2010, he received 79% of the vote against a Libertarian candidate, so the district is one that the Democrats don’t even bother to contest.

    Under Top 2, there would have been the possibility of a runoff, either between two Republicans, or the Republican favored by the voters against the Democrat.

  5. “It is perhaps sad that he does not support her political aspirations.”

    What does supporting or not supporting her have to do with allowing other candidates to participate in the race? Ballot access petitions should always be signed as a matter of course, as everyone who makes an effort to run should be given that chance. If you don’t support them, vote against them after signing their access petition. Unless your state is one of the few with idiotic rules against signing multiple petitions in the same race, sign as many as you can get your hands on. Everyone should be allowed to participate.

  6. Jim

    The article reasonably contends that having Turk on the ballot could harm the GOP nominee and help Shields. Thus, Mr. Shields could have explicitly and solely been supporting his wife’s political aspirations by signing the petition for Turk. Or he could merely believe in supporting an open political process. If it’s a problem that Turk would pull votes from the Republican then IRV or approval voting would be a far better solution than Top Two which dramatically harms voter choice in general elections.

  7. @Paulie,

    Don’t you have a monetary interest in persons signing petitions? You’re selling, so you have to have a spiel. Mitch Shields (the husband) likely prefers Jacob Turk, and was only found out after his signature was critical in Turk’s qualifying. Hillary Shields had to put on a happy face, when she was likely crushed by her husband’s political infidelity.

  8. @CP,

    An open political process would let all candidates run, and then have a runoff if nobody has a majority. Since Turk has been the Republican congressional candidate for the last six elections, he may have carried the senate district (the congressional district is about 60% Democratic, but the Senate district had no Democratic candidate the last two elections).

    Most voters have NO choice in a system of segregated partisan primaries. By the time of the general election, the choice has already been made.

    I can see using IRV in an Open Primary which avoids a possible problem with fragmentation. Alternatively, you could let the Top N advance, where N is the fewest candidates that receive N/(N+1). If a single candidate has more than 1/2 the votes, they would be elected. If two have 2/3 of the vote, only they would advance. If the top five have 5/6 of the vote they would advance.

    In the 2016 Senate race in California, 20 of 34 (37 including write-in) would have advanced to the second round (5 of 7 Democrats, 12 of 12 Republicans, 1 of 1 Greens, 1 of 2 Libertarians, 0 of 1 Peace&Freedom, and 1 of 11 No Party Preference (some of these may have had a preference, which the Bowen-Padilla regime denied them from expressing). Perhaps, the last qualifying candidate could set a threshold, and the also-ran candidates could donate their votes to other candidates to help them qualify. The independent vote was terribly fragmented, but collectively they received over 270,000 votes. There were two Libertarian candidates, and though one qualified, there would always be a risk of vote splitting harming the party. After the advancing candidates had been determined, any candidates other than the Top two would be permitted to withdraw (e.g. the 12th placed Republican, 20th overall, might recognize that he had little hope of winning).

    It is ludicrous to expect that voters could effectively rank 37 candidates, particularly if they are in a scrambled order.

  9. “Don’t you have a monetary interest in persons signing petitions?”

    Yes, my monetary interest is in having these ridiculous ballot access barrier laws done away with so I can do any of the many more lucrative things I could be doing for a career instead of devoting my life to pushing an unnecessary rock up an unnecessary hill over and over with no end in sight. It would also be in my monetary interest to be able to settle down somewhere and make my rent and other bills monthly rather than daily or weekly, thus saving me a great deal of money.

    “You’re selling, so you have to have a spiel.”

    No, I believe it, and in fact I believe it so much that I’ve had to do it for a living since it’s so important that I have no choice but to do it full time. My “spiel” is no different when I gather signatures for pay than when I gather any of the many thousands of signatures that I have gathered without pay, or when I talk about it on here, also without pay.

    It’s too bad that you falsely impugn my motives rather than realize that I am correct on this. Perhaps you do realize it, and this is the only argument you are able to muster on behalf of your otherwise indefensible position.

    “Mitch Shields (the husband) likely prefers Jacob Turk, and was only found out after his signature was critical in Turk’s qualifying. Hillary Shields had to put on a happy face, when she was likely crushed by her husband’s political infidelity.”

    None of that seems even remotely likely to anyone who has spent any appreciable number of time gathering petition signatures, with or without pay. Unless you know these people it sounds to me like you are writing fiction.

  10. Petition forms should be 4.25 x 5.5 inches — 4 per 8.5 x 11

    I nominate [Name, Address} for [office} at the [date] [general] election.
    Voter Signature, Printed Name, Address, Date signed.

    IE – plus/or put in BAN, newspaper, mags, internet, etc.

    PR and Appv

  11. They should not ever say “nominate,” but the actual purpose of the petition – “I am not opposed to candidate or party X being allowed to participate in the general election in November, 20xx. Please allow him or her or them to make a case to the voters. This is is no way shape or form a statement about which candidate or party I will vote for or support.” They should then have an optional check box so a person does not have to put their name, signature and address a second time: “Please also get rid of the requirement to gather such signatures, and allow all candidates to be on the ballot with only their own signature filed with the elections office.”

  12. Esp if more than 1 nomination is possible per voter, then voters can nominate candidates who they may NOT vote for.

  13. @Paulie,
    I was not suggesting there was anything wrong with you seeking to procure signatures, whether for pay or as a volunteer. Whether you recognize or admit it, yours is a sales position. You might believe in the product, and that may help you in getting people to buy, but you are still selling.
    You dress in a manner that will at minimum not cause potential signers to avoid you. You gather signatures at locations where there is a potential for more persons willing and qualified to sign the petitions. Then you make your sales pitch.
    I assume you are good at this, you assess the potential signer. If they support the candidate, they may approach you. You don’t ask them to sign so that the candidate will have an opportunity to make his case to the voters in the general election, perhaps. You go with the direct pitch (“let’s elect Joe (or Joan)!”) If the potential signer says that they don’t know who your candidate is, or supports someone else, you switch to your opportunity pitch. If they indicate that they are violently opposed to your candidate, you don’t engage in a hour-long debate trying to convince them to change their mind.
    In Missouri to qualify for a primary for state senate requires a filing fee of $100. To run as an independent requires 2% signatures of the previous vote (629, for this district). In 2016, of 163 House seats only 66 (40.5%) had both a Democratic and Republican nominee. Only 14 of those 66 was competitive (Democrat and Republican within 15%). In other words, in 91.4% of the districts, the primary was decisive.
    If Missouri were to adopt Top 2, all candidates would face the same filing requirements. Likely, the legislature would go with the simple filing fee of $100. While 500-ish signatures is not insurmountable (9 independents ran in 2016), it could trip up some party candidates.
    You claim to want to get rid of the ridiculous barrier, but by demonstrating that they can be overcome, you provide evidence for maintaining them, and deny the opportunity for many to be able to vote for their representative.

  14. “If they support the candidate, they may approach you. You don’t ask them to sign so that the candidate will have an opportunity to make his case to the voters in the general election, perhaps. You go with the direct pitch (“let’s elect Joe (or Joan)!”)”

    Absolutely NOT. I always begin and end by asking if they would allow the person or party to participate in the election. I never, ever, ever ask them to support the candidate or party. In fact, I pre-empt any such questions by saying right off the bat that signing does not mean they have to agree with or vote for the party or candidate on the petition and that me circulating the petition does not mean that I necessarily support them either before I even mention who that party or candidate is.

    If they happen to volunteer of their own accord that they do in fact support the candidate or party in question I may have a free bumper sticker for them if the campaign provides them to give out. If they have questions I refer them to the website or at most will answer one quick question for a total of 15 seconds maximum at most if I’m not very busy asking other people who are walking by.

    “If they indicate that they are violently opposed to your candidate, you don’t engage in a hour-long debate trying to convince them to change their mind.”

    Of course not. I just ask them if they would allow people who don’t agree with them on this to have equal voting rights, and/or if anyone who wants to run for office should be allowed to do so even if they would never personally vote for them in a million years. Either they say yes and sign or I move on.

    “If Missouri were to adopt Top 2, all candidates would face the same filing requirements. Likely, the legislature would go with the simple filing fee of $100. ”

    Yes, and then any non-establishment candidates would be eliminated long before the general public or the media starts paying much attention, except in heavily lopsided races where the incumbent or designated successor has such a lock on the race that the vast majority of voters, donors and media pay no attention either. Knowing this, they wouldn’t even bother to try qualifying for the primary, with very few exceptions. Additionally, since parties that don’t have universal name recognition, multimillion dollar budgets and blanket media coverage would lose control of their name on the ballot, they would essentially cease to exist. Non-establishment candidates running with Democrat and Republican labels would not fare much better, since they would face the same problem of being eliminated before most people pay attention.

    “You claim to want to get rid of the ridiculous barrier, but by demonstrating that they can be overcome, you provide evidence for maintaining them, and deny the opportunity for many to be able to vote for their representative.”

    Health care professionals demonstrate that diseases can be overcome. That doesn’t mean they should dread cures being found. If somehow cures for all diseases would be found, I’m sure most of them would be happy to find other work. That goes double in my case, since honestly I could do a lot better for myself doing something else.

    I don’t just claim to want to get rid of these barriers, I have sunk my whole life into it.

  15. @Paulie,
    A House race in Missouri has around 15,000 votes cast. Do you think the “media” covers those races? On election night, they might note the votes cast for the candidate for the Librarian Party or the Congress Party. Their political analyst might correct them, or more likely just say something about 3rd parties not having much effect. If it is a metropolitan area there will be dozens of races. They will get about eight inches of coverage, with the last paragraph saying, “Joe Smith is also running as a Libertarian in the race.”
    I don’t see why you would expect that more informed voters would be less interested than those who only vote in November. They get in the voting booth and see “Libertarian” and are suddenly curious?
    You seem to think it is more important that candidates get to flaunt their wares, than the voters get to choose their representative.

  16. Jim

    Why would a voter have to rank all 37 candidates? Oklahoma implemented IRV with a requirement that voters make second and third choices or their first one wouldn’t count and that requirement did not stand up in court.

  17. @Chris Powell,
    I did not say that a voter would be required by statute to rank all 37 candidates, but that to be effective they might have to.
    There were 14 Republican, 7 Democrat, 2 Libertarian, 1 Green, 1 Peace & Freedom, and 12 independents running (two of the Republicans and one independent were write-ins).
    Someone who generally supported the Republican party would probably want to rank all 14, particularly since in this case none had huge name recognition. They might want to then rank the independents and minor party candidates, and finally the Democratic candidates. But what if they recognized that the final vote might come down to Harris and Sanchez. So they would also want to rank them.

    California generally makes it impossible to rank more than three candidates. There have been a couple of elections in San Francisco where this had an effect. In one supervisor election, one candidate urged voters to vote for the three Chinese candidates, which would ensure that he got a lot of transfers. After he was elected, it was discovered he did not live in the city, let alone his district. Another election had a bunch of candidates that essentially tied for first. There were transfers among the candidates, but most ballots were exhausted. A Black candidate eventually prevailed over an Asian candidate, because there were enough Black candidates to ensure transfers to the last candidate. There were stronger transfers between the two Asian candidates, but since there were only two, the aggregate was less. In addition, the two Asian candidates did not really like one another. So the predominately Black district did eventually elect a Black candidate. The reason San Francisco only permits three choices, is they adapted a scanned ballot that had room for three columns of races. This works OK when you only have to fill in a bubble, rather than mark an ‘X’ (even if use ‘X’ your vote would likely count based on intent, and possibly by machine interpretation).

    But in San Francisco, each column is used for a different ranking. So you can vote for Trump as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Or you could vote for Trump, Clinton, Trump, etc. Nobody really knows what the voter is attempting to convey, and it may be that they are as confused by the ballot as any Florida voter was by the butterfly ballot. IRV advocates will claim that these are all somehow valid, by which they mean that the vote-counting program did not COREDUMP, but it quite probably was GIGO.

    If you or anyone was asked to rank 10 items in terms of preference, they would do it one of two ways. If the items were listed on a sheet of paper, they would but a numeral next to the items. A small percentage might use Roman numerals, I, II, III, IV, etc., or letters, A, B, C, D, E. Perhaps someone would give them ratings (100, 94, 93, etc.). Or someone might right the names in order of preference. This would take more effort, but would also be easiest for the voter to review and verify their choices, simply crossing out and moving a name, if they decide to move them up.

    But nobody would draw 37 circles next to each candidates name, and then fill in a circle in a column corresponding to a ranking. Voters are being forced to be machine friendly. HAL is your friend.

    But fundamentally it is impossible to evaluate and rank 37 candidates. My system would simply require voters to make a first choice. Even if their favored candidate did not make the initial cut, they might advance based on a coalescence of eliminated candidates. The eliminated independent candidates could choose one or two among them to continue.

  18. In some foreign regimes there are large boxes next to the N candidate names for each office —

    to write in the numbers — 1 to N — ie possible handwriting problems.

    One more reason to have ALL paper mail ballots — with possible computerized ballots.

    Candidate Name
    O O O O O O O O O O
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    ————–
    More Os and numbers

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