No Libertarian label for party’s candidate this year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Libertarian Party of Tennessee’s candidate for governor has lost a bid to have his party affiliation appear next to his name on the ballot, according to court records. Instead, those wishing to vote for Daniel Lewis will see him listed as an independent.

That’s because the party has not collected the more-than-40,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. Under Tennessee law, individual candidates need collect only 25 signatures to appear on the ballot, but they appear as independents if their parties have not also qualified.

The party is suing over the signature requirement, claiming it is onerous. While the lawsuit works its way through the courts, Lewis had asked for a temporary order allowing him to be listed as a Libertarian on the ballot this election. U.S. District Judge William Haynes denied the request last week.

Heather Scott, an attorney for the Libertarian Party, said she was not discouraged.

“This isn’t the only election,” she said. “The important thing is the long haul.”

State Elections Administrator Mark Goins had no comment.

As the basis for his denial, Haynes cited a recent opinion by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a similar ballot access challenge brought by the Green Party of Tennessee and the Constitution Party of Tennessee.

In that case, the 6th Circuit left open the idea that the signature requirement could be an unconstitutional burden on party members’ first amendment rights. However, the panel sent the case back to Haynes because they said there was not enough evidence in the record to make that determination yet.

Despite the setback at the 6th Circuit, an order by Haynes requiring that both the Green and Constitution parties appear on the ballot through at least 2015 still stands, and the party affiliations of their candidates do appear next to their names this year.

The parties also are challenging a Tennessee law that requires candidates from smaller parties and independent candidates to appear after the Republican and Democratic candidates.

Early voting starts Wednesday. Election Day is Nov. 4.