On May 8, the Working Families Party filed to be a “political body” in California. That means, whenever the state does a tally of how many registered voters there are in the state, it will tally the number of voters who have registered as Working Families Party members. If the party persuades approximately 80,000 people to take this step by January 2008, it will become a qualified party at that time.
The California Senate Elections Committee had scheduled a hearing on May 17 on AB 583, the “Clean Elections” public funding bill for state candidates. However, the hearing was cancelled, and it is not likely that the bill will pass in a future hearing this year. An initiative will probably appear on the November 2006 ballot to implement “Clean Elections” in any event. Unfortunately, the initiative is even more discriminatory against members of minor parties, and independent candidates, than AB 583.
Paul Trujillo, chair of the Valencia County, New Mexico, County Commission, formally switched his registration from “Democrat” to “Libertarian” on May 4. He had said several months ago that he would do this. He is running for re-election as a Libertarian, and will face a Democratic and a Republican opponent.
On May 16, Oregon held primary elections for the Democratic and Republican Parties (other qualified parties nominate by convention). Turnout was low (38% of the registered voters), which is good news for State Senator Ben Westlund, who is trying to collect signatures to get on the ballot as an independent for Governor. Last year Oregon made it illegal for people to both vote in the primary and sign for an independent candidate.
Oregon usually has high turnouts in primaries. In the May 2002 primary, 686,859 votes were cast for Governor. This year, with only 10 precincts still to be counted, there are only 569,552 votes for governor, even though Oregon has gained in population since 2002.
Pennsylvania held primaries on May 16. The two top Republican leaders of the State Senate, Senators Brightbill and Jubelirer (majority leader and president pro tempore) both were defeated for re-election. The Republican leadership of the Pennsylvania State Senate have been stalwart foes of ballot access reform. In 1997, Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania State Senate quadrupled the number of signatures needed for minor parties and independents, although that bill was vetoed. More recently, the Pennsylvania House has held hearings on ballot access reform, but the Senate has never shown any interest in improving the ballot access laws.
On May 13, the Salt Lake City Tribune newspaper reported that the C. W. Mining Company had settled its defamation lawsuit against the United Mine Workers Union of America and the Socialist Workers Party newspaper, The Militant. The Militant had run 54 articles over the past three years about a labor dispute in a Utah coal mine. The owners of the coal mine, and the company union, had filed a federal defamation lawsuit. On May 1, U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson had refused to release The Militant from the lawsuit, but since then, the case has been dropped, and the United Mine Workers Association will not try to organize that mine. IAUWU v UMWA, 2:04-cv-901.