Illinois State Senator James Meeks said over the weekend that he will attempt to create a new party, and be its gubernatorial candidate, this year. He is not only a State Senator, but pastor of Chicago’s Salem Baptist Church, which has 26,000 members. When he was elected to the State Senate in 2002, he won as the nominee of the Honesty and Integrity Party, so presumably that would be the name of his party. However, he is also running for re-election to the State Senate as a Democrat. If he goes ahead with his gubernatorial run, he would need to withdraw from his re-election race. Petitioning for third party petitions starts on March 28. Other petitions that will be circulating starting that day are the Green and Constitution Party statewide petitions.
At least two state parties held nominating conventions on March 26. The Nevada Green Party nominated Craig Bergland for Governor.
The Florida Libertarian Party decided not to nominate any candidates for statewide office, and none for U.S. House, but it nominated for two state legislative districts.
Some Florida Libertarians wanted to nominate the ticket of John Wayne Smith for Governor, and James Kearney for Lieutenant Governor, but a majority of delegates preferred to have no candidates for these offices. However, there is another qualified party in Florida called the American Libertarian Party, and it is likely that the American Libertarian Party will nominate these candidates. If so, Smith will be the first minor party nominee for Governor to be on the Florida ballot since 1920. Florida had an independent candidate for Governor in 2002, but has not had a third party nominee on the ballot in 85 years. The Socialist Party nominee for Governor appeared on the ballot in 1920.
The Constitution Party is now ballot-qualified in Montana, as a result of obtaining 5,000 valid signatures on its party petition. This time, the party is running a candidate for a statewide office (Clerk of the Supreme Court), so it is highly likely to poll enough votes to remain on the ballot for 2008.
In Nebraska, the Constitution Party’s affiliate, the Nebraska Party, has also re-qualified, by submitting 4,735 valid signatures. The party is now the only party on the Nebraska ballot, except for the Democrats and Republicans. The party is extremely likely to poll enough votes to remain on the ballot for 2008 as well, since it has candidates for several statewide offices, and there is no Democrat in those races, making it virtually certain that it will poll 5%.
Assemblyman Tom Umberg of California sued the California Secretary of State on March 20. Umberg charges that the Secretary of State should not have placed J. Luis Correa on the Democratic primary ballot, as an opponent to Umberg (both are running for State Senate). Umberg says Correa turned in too many signatures. The law says a candidate seeking a place on a primary ballot (for district office) needs 40 signatures, and that no one may turn in more than 60 signatures. Correa turned in 101 signatures. The case is Umberg v McPherson,06-406, Superior Court, Sacramento, and will be heard March 28.
This case will test whether the recent California Supreme Court opinion Costa v Superior Court applies to candidate petitions as well as initiative petitions. The Costa case set forth a “substantial compliance” rule for initiative petitions (see the March 1, 2006 Ballot Access News for more about the Costa opinion).
On March 24, Carole Strayhorn, independent candidate for Governor of Texas, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Austin over some ballot access rules. The case was assigned to Judge Sam Sparks. Strayhorn v Williams, A06-ca205.
The lawsuit argues that the state should permit independent candidates to file supplemental petitions, after the first batch has been turned in. The lawsuit also argues that the state may not arbitrarily refuse to use the random sampling method that is already provided for in state law. For some reason, a few weeks ago, the Texas Secretary of State said he would not use random sampling this year for independent candidate petitions, and he also ruled that once signatures have been turned in, no more signatures will be accepted, even if the deadline lies in the future. There is no statutory authorization for such a rule.
On March 24, the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office said that the Libertarian Party’s petition for party status has enough valid signatures. The petition had been submitted back on November 28, 2005, and it took this long for it to be thoroughly examined.
Next, the Libertarian Party will probably file a lawsuit, arguing that since it has demonstrated it has a modicum of voter support, it is unconstitutional for the state to require additional thousands of signatures in support of the party’s convention nominees. The party has already nominated 3 candidates for statewide office, at its convention, but state law requires approximately 7,500 valid signatures on additional petitions for each of them. A similar lawsuit was won against Maryland in 2003. New Mexico is the only state which expects one petition to qualify a party, and then separate petitions for each of its nominees.