Tag Archives: third parties

5 independents on TN ballot (4 with party affiliations)

Five people have been approved for listing as Independent candidates for president on Tennessee’s November ballot, including four who are otherwise designated as nominees by national party organizations less known than the Democratic and Republican parties.

Tennessee’s list of presidential candidates was finalized Thursday, according to a spokesman for the state Division of Elections, overseen by Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Only Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump will be identified by party affiliation on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot under a state law that has been the subject of lawsuits in recent years. But four are campaigning nationally as nominees of third parties. They are: Continue reading

Libertarian drive seeks party label on TN November ballot

The Libertarian Party of Tennessee has launched a drive to collect enough signatures to have the party’s candidates listed on the November ballot by party label rather than as “independent.”

Excerpt from a Columbia Daily Herald column on the effort:

Under state law, Democrats and Republicans only need 25 signatures. But alternative parties need 34,000 valid signatures, almost double the votes Johnson received here in 2012. (Note: Gary Johnson was the Libertarian presidential nominee then and has been nominated again. A Politico report on the party convention and November prospects is HERE.)

Republicans, who control the state legislature, have stacked the deck against third parties. Lawsuits and proposed legislation have done little to change the atmosphere. Both Republicans and Democrats think Libertarians hurt their chances in tight races.

“The current political climate has many people looking for alternatives to the two major parties,” (Tennessee Libertarian Chairman Jim) Tomasik said. “In Tennessee, we in essence only have one major party due to the fact that the Democratic Party is dominated overwhelmingly by the Republican super majority.

“Tennesseans looking for more choices are invited to join our petition drive.”

Note: The Tennessee Libertarian Party’s website has a news release on the “ballot access drive” HERE, including a link to the petition form. An excerpt is below: Continue reading

Appeals court : TN ballot access law violates minor party constitutional rights

The federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Tennessee’s requirements for “minor” parties getting their names on the ballot violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, reports the Tennessean. The decision upholds a lower court ruling.

“Tennessee’s ballot-retention statute clearly imposes a heavier burden on minor parties than major parties by giving minor parties less time to obtain the same level of electoral success as established parties,” wrote Chief Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. in the court’s decision.

The decision means Tennessee’s requirements for minor parties to get their candidates on a ballot can’t be enforced. The Green Party of Tennessee and Constitution Party of Tennessee brought the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law in 2013; Green Party Co-Chair Kate Culver said the decision is a huge victory for minor parties in Tennessee and across the country.

“This is huge for the potential for third parties to have a voice in the political arena,” Culver said Thursday morning.

“We know right now people are unhappy and disgruntled with the two major parties. … There needs to be some way to get those voices heard.”

The parties sued Secretary of State Tre Hargett. Through a spokesman, Hargett said his office is reviewing the court’s decision to determine what action the state might take next.

…Tennessee law says a minor party must be recognized as a minor party to get a candidate on a ballot. That recognition requires a petition with signatures totaling at least 2.5 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election; that’d be at least 33,844 signatures based on the 2014 gubernatorial election.

After meeting that petition requirement, though, one of the party’s candidates for statewide office would have to receive at least 5 percent of the votes cast in the governor’s election to remain on the ballot for the next election. If none of the party’s candidates met that threshold, they’d have to go out and collect signatures again.

Major parties are allowed to meet that 5 percent mark at any point over the course of four years to remain on the ballot, according to Tennessee law.

“Only Tennessee’s access-retention system forces minor political parties to attain the same vote percentage as major political parties in less time,” states the court’s opinion, with emphasis added to “same” and “less” by the court.

Note: A copy of the opinion is HERE.

Norris Dryer, Green Party candidate in 2nd Congressional District, dies age 71

Green Party candidate for Congress and accomplished concert violinist Norris L. Dryer is being remembered as man who was as committed to his friends as he was his politics, according to the News sentinel. .

Mr. Dryer died Thursday after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 71.

A native of Elkhart, Ind., Mr. Dryer was a longtime member of the Knox County Green Party, and the party’s nominee for the 2nd District U.S. House of Representatives seat in the Nov. 4 general election.

He also was noted as the first openly gay candidate for Knoxville City Council in 2003.

“He’s always been engaged in activist causes, activist issues,” said Martin Pleasant, a friend and fellow Green Party member. “He inspired a lot of us to get involved.”

Mr. Dryer was a 1965 graduate of Indiana University who also held a master’s degree in music history from Boston University. He took violin lessons from Albert Lazan and Ulrico Rossi while an undergraduate and went on to play in numerous orchestras, including the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Symphony and the Indiana University Philharmonic.

Mr. Dryer was beginning his 47th season with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra until he had to resign for health reasons.

Additionally, he was a well-known radio personality with WUOT, where he worked for 34 years.

Ball, six other Senate candidates call for ending federal laws criminalizing marijuana

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gordon Ball said Thursday the federal government has no business regulating pot, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

“I believe the federal government should repeal any prohibition concerning marijuana,” the Knoxville attorney said during a Nashville debate with six third party and independent candidates.

It appears to be the first time a nominee for statewide office in Tennessee from either the Democratic or Republican Party has said that.

Equally unusual was that all six of the other candidates — who ran the ideological gamut from hard left to hard right — pretty much said the same thing.

Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., did not participate in the debate, citing previous commitments.

Ball cited the experience 25 years ago of a woman who was friends with his wife.

“She had a 2-year-old,” he said. “She couldn’t take any drug at all to relieve her pain except marijuana. It was illegal at the time. I believe in medical marijuana and it helped her to get over the pain.” He said the woman survived.

Danny Page, a religious conservative, fielded the question first. He declared the “federal government does not have the enumerated power in the United States Constitution to restrict the growth and sale of marijuana.” It is up to states, Page said, noting, “now as a Christian, that’s not something I’m going to partake of.” However, Page noted he has a teenage son who has epilepsy and takes hemp oil to relieve seizure.

Growing, possessing and selling marijuana is currently a federal crime.

Green Party nominee Martin Pleasant and Libertarian Party candidate Joshua James agreed the federal government should leave it up to states to decide how to handle marijuana. So did Constitution Party nominee Joe Wilmouth and self-styled “Anti-Party” candidate Ed Gauthier and independent Tom Emerson.

Gauthier noted it’s been a major state revenue booster for Colorado, which has legalized recreational use. Several other states have legalized medical marijuana.

However, Page noted he has a teenage son who has epilepsy and takes hemp oil to relieve seizure.

Growing, possessing and selling marijuana is currently a federal crime.

Green Party nominee Martin Pleasant and Libertarian Party candidate Joshua James agreed the federal government should leave it up to states to decide how to handle marijuana. So did Constitution Party nominee Joe Wilmouth and self-styled “Anti-Party” candidate Ed Gauthier and independent Tom Emerson.

Gauthier noted it’s been a major state revenue booster for Colorado, which has legalized recreational use. Several other states have legalized medical marijuana.

See also The Tennessean’s report on the debate (and Alexander’s activity elsewhere). Excerpt:

Alexander says no to joining debate with seven other U.S. Senate candidates

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander has declined to join a Thursday debate involving seven of the 11 people running against his reelection to the U.S. Senate.

“Sen. Alexander has other long-scheduled events, so he will be unable to attend,” said Brian Reisinger, spokesman for the Alexander campaign, in an email.

Alexander has also declined calls from Democratic nominee Gordon Ball to join him in a series of debates who has regularly called on Alexander to join him in a series of one-on-one debates. Both he and Ball were invited to join the Thursday debate, organized by representatives of six other candidates, according to debate spokesman James S. Buente. Ball accepted the invitation Monday. The two did have one face-to-face meeting in a forum sponsored by the Tennessee Farm Bureau.

The other candidates who signed up to participate, in alphabetical order:

-Tom Emerson, who lives in the Tipton County town of Atoka and says on his campaign website that he is “running as the Tea Party candidate.”

-Edmund L. Gauthier of Dover in Stewart County, who is described in a news release from even organizers as a “constitutional independent” and “anti-party (of any shape, form or name).”

-Joshua James of Murfreesboro, who is the Libertarian Party candidate, but who will appear on the ballot as an independent.

-Danny Page of Greenbrier (Robertson County), described in the news release as a “constitutional conservative.” He is on the ballot as an independent.

-Martin Pleasant of Knoxville, who will be listed as the Green Party candidate on the ballot.

-Joe Wilmouth of Baxter (Putnam County), who will be listed on the ballot as the Constitution Party candidate.

The Constitution and Green parties filed a lawsuit that resulted in a federal judge declaring their candidates must be identified by party label on the ballot. The Libertarian party sought similar status, after a ruling was issued, but the judge refused.

Besides Alexander, others on the ballot– all listed as independent candidates – are Bartholomew J. Phillips of Nashville, C. Salekin of Murfreesboro, Eric Schechter of Nashville and Rick Tyler of Ocoee.

The two-hour debate at Nashville’s Sheraton Hotel, located near the state Capitol building, is to begin at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

In declining to debate state Rep. Joe Carr during the Republican primary this summer, Alexander suggested it would be appropriate to include all seven candidates seeking the GOP nomination at the time and questioned the value of a debate with so many involved.

“The first question would be, could we schedule it?” Alexander told reporters in June. “And the second would be if anyone would learn anything from a debate among seven people like that.”

Note: Tom Humphrey (that would be yours truly, who posted this and everything else on this blog) will be serving as moderator of the Thursday debate.

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.

AP story on third parties still seeking ballot identity in TN

By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Four years after the Libertarian Party of Tennessee filed its first lawsuit to get on the ballot, the group is still fighting for access in a state that has some of the most restrictive rules in the country for smaller political parties.

Since 2010, the Libertarians, the Green Party of Tennessee and the Constitution Party of Tennessee have been in near-constant litigation with the state. They have won several victories, and the legislature has changed the law slightly. But the parties say the hurdles for them to get their names on the ballot are still unreasonably high.

A 2010 federal court ruling in one of the cases stated that Tennessee was one of only two states where no third parties had qualified for the ballot over the previous decade.

Individual candidates can appear on Tennessee’s ballot simply by submitting a petition with 25 signatures, but they will appear as independents unless their parties have qualified to appear on the ballot as well. For a party to appear on the ballot, it must collect more than 40,000 signatures. If the party wants to stay on the ballot, one of its candidates must garner more than 80,000 votes.

A recent opinion from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in one of the cases says the ease with which an independent candidate can get on Tennessee’s ballot undermines the state’s argument that too many parties could result in voter confusion.

“It is a puzzling proposition that voters should be less confused by a ballot listing numerous candidates without a party designation than by a similar ballot including party designations.” The court goes on to say that a ballot with party designations “at least, contains information helpful to distinguishing among lesser-known candidates.”

Donn Janes, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee, said he believes the major parties intentionally make it difficult for minor parties.

“Libertarians would erode some of the voter base for the Republican party,” he said. “I can see why they would want to keep us off the ballot.”

A state Republican Party spokesman declined to comment. Ken Kollman, a political science professor at the University of Michigan, said it is clear that “a strong Libertarian candidate in any state is going to hurt the Republicans.”

He said both Republicans and Democrats have traditionally tried to limit the influence of third parties.

“They’d rather have a two-party competition than a three-party competition,” he said. “It’s more predictable, and it’s a way of keeping your dissidents within the fold.”

Tennessee first began restricting ballot access in the early 1960s. Richard Winger is editor of Ballot Access News, a subscription newsletter and website that covers developments in the law affecting the legal status of political parties and independent candidates.

He said Tennessee’s ballot restrictions came shortly after the segregationist and anti-Semitic National States’ Rights Party appeared on the ballot. At the time, Winger said, “sophisticated, respectable people simply did not run for office outside the major parties.

“But you have two independent U.S. senators now.”

In a lawsuit filed recently, attorneys for the state Libertarian Party claim Tennessee’s ballot access laws violate party members’ constitutional rights to free speech, association and equal protection.

U.S. District Judge William Haynes has twice ruled in favor of the Green and Constitution parties on similar claims. The state has appealed those rulings, but the appeals do not invalidate Haynes’ order requiring the two parties to appear on the ballot at least through 2015.

Winger said that if it not for the court order, Tennessee would join Oklahoma as the only other state without third-party candidates on the ballot this year.

The Libertarian Party was not a plaintiff in that lawsuit and was not included in the order, so the party has filed a separate petition asking the U.S. District Court to rule that its chosen candidate for governor, Daniel T. Lewis, must be allowed to be listed as a Libertarian.

“If the state, if the Republican Party, wants to discriminate and manipulate the laws to hang on to power, we’ve got to stand up to them and force them to do the right thing,” Janes said.

Constitution, Green parties see opportunites in this fall’s TN elections

Representatives of the Green Party and Constitution Party appear to have their best opportunity in decades this year in a push to establish a foothold in Tennessee politics following years of battles in the courts and state legislature, according to the Tennessean.

A federal judge has ordered state officials to let Greens and Constitutionalists appear on the ballot for just the second time ever. And the races at the top of the ballot are likely to be landslides, which could make it easier for them to pitch Tennesseans on casting third-party votes in protest.

Third parties could have a lot riding on the outcome. If they can take 5 percent of the vote in either the race for U.S. Senate or governor, they would guarantee themselves a place on the ballot for at least another four years.

“It would remove any doubt about ballot access,” said Darrell Castle, a Memphis attorney and former Constitution Party candidate. “We want our party to be recognized, like Democrats and Republicans.”

Tennessee makes it easy to run for office as an independent. Candidates need just 25 signatures to appear on election ballots.

But the state sets high standards for those candidates to run as nominees of organized political parties. To be recognized, their parties must obtain signatures from 2.5 percent of the electorate — slightly more than 40,000 names. And to stay on the ballot for future elections, they must win at least 5 percent of the vote in a statewide race.

Third parties have complained for years about the signature requirement, and in 2012, a federal judge in Nashville agreed it is too burdensome. He ordered the state to recognize Green and Constitutional candidates for that fall’s races. Last spring, the same judge followed up by ruling in a second case that the state must let them appear again this fall. (Other minor parties, such as the Libertarian Party of Tennessee, did not take part in those two lawsuits.)

The state’s attorneys have appealed both decisions, but it’s not clear when the court will rule. Election officials are preparing for the likelihood that Greens and Constitutionalists will be allowed to run in November.

Constitution Party of TN names candidates; hears speech against Constitutional Convention

The Constitution Party of Tennessee met Saturday at Union University in Jackson to nominate candidates for the November general election and hear a speech from Richard Fly, a constitutional and civil litigation attorney who opposes an ongoing movement to amend the U.S. Constitution (already approved by the Tennessee Legislature).

From the Jackson Sun report:

Article V of the Constitution provides for state legislatures to apply for a convention to propose constitutional amendments. Thirty-four states must pass an application for such a convention.

If it occurred, 38 states would have to ratify any proposed amendment.

But Fry, also co-founder of Defend Not Amend and general counsel for the Patriot Coalition, said the goals and history of the movement are sinister.

“Why should we believe that amending the Constitution will make public servants uphold it?” Fry asked his audience.

Today, several organizations are urging for an Article V convention to stop government overreach and require a balanced budget.

Advocates want to propose amendments that would “limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and force Congress to be fiscally responsible,” according to the Convention of States’ website.

(Note: The Tennessee Legislature earlier this year approved HJR548, as posted HERE, and a separate “faithful delegate” bill (SB1432) that is intended to assure that delegates to the constitutional convention must follow directions of the General Assembly. At the time, Tennessee was the 22nd state to adopt the convention call.)

…Rather than holding a primary, candidates are voted for by general members, said Jerry Pangle, 7th Congressional District director for the party.

Only those nominated Saturday may run on a Constitution Party platform.

Nominated candidates are Joe Wilmoth for U.S. Senate, Mark Rawles for U.S. House, Shaun Crowell for governor, Tim York for Tennessee Senate, Mike Warner for Tennessee House, Steve Hilton for Gibson County executive, Brad Nelson for Madison County commissioner, Brian Renfroe for Madison County commissioner and Jacob Seth York for Madison County commissioner.

Note: The candidates for state office had duly filed qualifying petitions prior to the April deadline, according to the state Division of Elections website. Wilmoth, of Baxter, is listed there as an ‘independent’ candidate for the U.S. Senate. Rawles, of Jackson; Crowell, of Spring Hill; York, of Jackson (running in state Senate District 27, now held by retiring Democratic Sen. Lowe Finney); and Warner, of Clarksville (running in House District 67, now held by Democratic Rep. Joe Pitts) are listed a Constitution party candidates.

The website listing also has an asterisk by the Constitution party label, referring readers to this note:
*Currently, there is litigation pending as to whether the Constitution and/or Green party will be listed on the November ballot. If listed, the Constitution and Green Parties will be nominating by convention/caucus method. Therefore, pending the nomination process, this candidate may or may not represent the respective minor party in November.