A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Thursday assures that Green Party candidates will have a place on Tennessee’s November general election ballot in several races – including Martin Pleasant of Knoxville as the party’s U.S. Senate nominee.
“That’s wonderful,” said Pleasant, 43, who said he now plans to take some time off his job with the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department for campaigning.
State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said the court ruling came in requests for an expedited ruling on two issues in a lawsuit brought by the Green and Constitution parties challenging the state’s ballot access.
Currently, Democrats and Republicans are listed by party affiliation but others are listed as independents unless they go through various steps that a U.S. District Court judge in Nashville ruled in February are too burdensome. The state attorney general’s office appealed that ruling.
In Thursday’s decision, the court declared Green and Constitution party candidates must be on the ballot and listed by party name, Goins said. But the court ruled for the state in another issue up for “expedited” decision – letting stand a present law requiring the “majority party,” now Republicans, be listed first on the ballot, followed by the “minority party,” the Democrats, with others following lower on the ballot.
The Nashville judge had ruled that the ballot order should be determined by a random drawing.
Further hearings and rulings are expected later.
The Green Party of Tennessee nominated a slate of candidates at a convention earlier this year, but their place on the ballot was not assured until Thursday’s decision. The decision also means that Kermit Steck of Kingsport will be on the ballot as U.S. Senate nominee of the Constitution Party, which did not qualify candidates in any other races.
Five Green Party congressional candidates will be on the ballot under the ruling. They are Robert N. Smith of Greeneville in the 1st District, Norris Dryer of Knoxville in the 2nd District; John Miglietta of Nashville in the 5th District; Patrick John Riley of Lancaster in the 6th District; and Howard Switzer of Linden in the 7th District.
There are also five Green Party candidates for state House seats, including two in Knoxville. Calvin Cassady will oppose Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, in the 15th state House District while Bryan Moneyhun is now qualified for a spot on the ballot against Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville. Both Armstrong and Dunn would have no opposition to reelection without the Green nominees.
Other Green legislative candidates are Suzanne Elaine Parker of Bluff City in House District 3, Donald Land of Mohawk in House District 11 and Susan Shann of Nashville in House District 55.
Pleasant said he is hopeful that “turmoil” in the Democratic party may improve his prospects and that he has already heard from some Democrats who are supportive of his candidacy.