On February 22, the 9th circuit declined to strike down Oregon’s law, banning the practice of paying initiative circulators per signature. The court said “We do not hold that the law is facially constitutional. Rather, we hold that the district court did not clearly err in determining plaintiffs failed to establish that the law imposes a severe burden.” Evidence in the case presented by the plaintiffs was feeble, whereas the state did a better job of presenting evidence in support of the law. Prete v Bradbury, 04-35285. A similar law had been upheld in North Dakota, but similar laws in Idaho, Maine, Mississippi and Washington had been struck down in U.S. District Courts.
Ever since the 1910’s decade, qualified political parties in California have chosen county party officers in their own primaries. However, in 2003, the legislature amended the law to provide that parties may abolish these elections if they wish. The Libertarian Party has become the first party to do so. The 2003 law change did not take effect until after the 2004 primary, so this year is the first year any party could make this choice. Fewer than half the states let parties choose their officers in a publicly-funded primary.
The Green Party candidate for California’s 29th U.S. House seat will be Bill Paparian, who was a city councilman and mayor of Pasadena between 1987 and 1999. The 29th district is now represented by Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat who is running for re-election. In 2004 the vote was Schiff 133,670, the Republican nominee 62,871, the Green nominee 5,715 and the Libertarian nominee 4,570. Paparian advocates bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq; he says Schiff has been too supportive of U.S. policy.
Charlie Wilson, the leading Democratic contender for U.S. House, Ohio 6th district, fell short by four signatures in his attempt to get on the Democratic primary ballot. The 6th district is currently represented by another Democrat, Ted Strickland, who is leaving Congress to run for Governor. Ohio requires 50 signatures for candidates for district office to get on a primary ballot. Wilson submitted 96, but almost half of them were from outside the district. Wilson had already raised $400,000 for the race. He can still be a write-in candidate in the May 2 primary, or he can gather 2,200 signatures to be an independent candidate. Two lesser-known Democrats will be on the primary ballot in that race. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news.
The Indiana U.S. Senate race this year will have only a Republican and a Libertarian on the ballot, since no Democrat filed for the May 2006 primary. Although the Green Party is circulating a statewide petition, that petition must list candidates, and the Greens didn’t put anyone on that petition for U.S. Senate.
The Democratic primaries this year for Secretary of State in both Alabama and Massachusetts both may be interesting to friends of minor political parties. In both primaries, pro-minor individuals will try to unseat veteran Secretaries of State. In Alabama, Ed Packard, a long-time employee of the Secretary of State’s office, will oppose incumbent Nancy Worley. In Massachusetts, attorney John Bonifaz of the National Voting Rights Institute will oppose incumbent William Galvin.
Packard has always been helpful to minor party and independent candidates in Alabama, to the extent he was able to help. Worley has not been openly hostile to minor parties or independent candidates, but she hasn’t been interested in helping them, either. Alabama is one of the five worst states for ballot access.
Bonifaz, as Secretary of State in Massachusetts, would work very hard to implement “clean elections” in that state. As an attorney, he has represented the Natural Law, Reform, Constitution and Reform Parties in fighting the Commission on Presidential Debates.