February 1, 2008 Ė Volume 23, Number 10

This issue was originally printed on pink paper.

Table of Contents

  1. LOPEZ TORRES DECISION IS OF ABYSMAL QUALITY
  2. 3 STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTIES WIN LAWSUITS
  3. PETITIONING VICTORY
  4. MORE LAWSUIT NEWS
  5. NEW ACCESS BILLS
  6. 2008 PETITIONING FOR PRESIDENT
  7. UNITY08 WITHDRAWS
  8. SOCIALIST WORKERS TICKET
  9. LIBERTY UNION PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY
  10. INDEPENDENCE PARTY GOES NATIONAL
  11. TEXAS POTENTIAL PARTIES
  12. PARTY FOR SOCIALISM & LIBERATION
  13. SUBSCRIBING TO BAN WITH PAYPAL


LOPEZ TORRES DECISION IS OF ABYSMAL QUALITY

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued 20 opinions in ballot access cases. The latest was issued on January 16. It is New York State Bd. of Elections v Lopez Torres, 06-766, and it upheld procedures for candidates for Delegate to Judicial Nominating Conventions gain access to primary ballots. By all the neutral criteria by which any court decision may be evaluated, the Lopez Torres decision is the poorest quality ballot access decision that the Court has ever issued.

Margarita Lopez Torres wanted to be nominated by the Democratic Party for Supreme Court Justice in Brooklyn. She had previously won elections in Brooklyn for Judge of the Civil Court, and for Surrogate. If the ballot access laws had not prevented her from running a full slate of Delegate candidates to the Brooklyn Democratic nominating convention, she could probably have elected her Delegate slate, won a Democratic Party nomination, and been overwhelmingly elected in November. Never before had the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ballot access law that is so strict that it even stops a likely winner from competing.

The Court could have written a good opinion even if it had ruled against Lopez Torres. The Court could plausibly have written an opinion that says each political party has a First Amendment right to decide for itself how to nominate candidates. Such an opinion would have enhanced the ability of all political parties to decide how to run their own affairs. It could have been used to help political parties attack primary ballot access laws that are too difficult. Such an opinion was possible in this case, because the national Republican Party, the New York state Republican Party, and the Manhatten Democratic Party, had all filed briefs saying they like the New York system, and that parties should decide their own nomination rules.

But the Lopez Torres decision doesnít even say clearly that parties can set their own rules (although it hints at it). Instead, it tries to pretend that there are no ballot access problems with New Yorkís rules, and says that the Courtís prior ballot access precedents make this clear. The opinion is only 12 pages long. By contrast, the U.S. District Court decision is 45 pages, and the U.S. Court of Appeals decision is 46 pages.

The record shows that in the 85 years since New York has been choosing party nominees by convention, with a primary to choose the delegates, no one who wanted a judicial nomination, and who wasnít supported by the party organization, had ever managed to qualify a full slate of Delegates for the primary ballot.

Lopez Torres would have needed to place 305 candidates for Delegate on the Democratic primary ballot in Brooklyn, if she wanted to maximize her chances for the nomination. Brooklyn has 21 Assembly districts. She would have needed 21 different petition drives, and 10,500 valid signatures (500 from each Assembly district). The signatures can only come from registered Democrats, and must be collected in 37 days.

All the prior U.S. Supreme Court precedents, favorable and unfavorable alike, have said that Courts are supposed to look at ballot access barriers realistically. The first unfavorable ballot access decision was Jenness v Fortson, in 1971. It said on page 439 that ballot access must be real, not just theoretical. It bolstered by that pointing out that the Georgia petition barrier had been used in both 1966 and 1968.

The next relevant precedents were issued in 1974. Lubin v Panish said "It is expected that a voter hopes to find on the ballot a candidate who comes near to reflecting his policy preferences on contemporary issues."

Storer v Brown said, "Could a reasonably diligent independent candidate be expected to satisfy the signature requirements, or will it be rarely that the unaffiliated candidate will succeed in getting on the ballot? Past experience will be a helpful, if not always an unerring, guide: it will be one thing if independent candidates have qualified with some regularity and quite a different matter if they have not." That case was remanded back to the lower court for more fact-finding. Since the record showed that no one had ever qualified for statewide office under the California law, the state gave in and eased the law, with no further court action.

American Party of Texas v White, issued the same day by the same author (Justice Byron White), said, "What is demanded may not be so excessive or impractical as to be in reality a mere device to always, or almost always, exclude parties with significant support from the ballot. The Constitution requires that access to the electorate be real, not Ďmerely theoreticalí." Since the record in that case showed that both the Socialist Workers Party and La Raza Unida had qualified in 1972, the Court upheld the law.

In 1977, in Mandel v Bradley, the U.S. Supreme Court repeated what it had said in Storer. The Court sent this case back to the lower court to gather more facts about the Maryland law. The lower court then struck down the law, since the historical record showed that no one had satisqualified statewide since 1968.

In 1983, Anderson v Celebrezze "A court must resolve such a challenge by an analytical processÖIt must identify and evaluate the precise interests put forward by the State as justifications for the burden imposed ÖThe results will not be automatic; there is Ďno substitute for the hard judgments that must be madeí."

The Lopez Torres decision does not even discuss the ballot access burden that Lopez Torres faced. It only talks about the 500-signature requirement for a single candidate for Delegate, and says, "The signature requirement here is far from excessive." The opinion doesnít even calculate the requirement as a percentage. If the opinion writer had done so, he or she would have learned that for Republicans, the percentage is 2.48% of eligible signers; for Democrats, it is 1.41% (in the April 2007 registration tally, the average Assembly district had 20,102 registered Republicans and 35,473 Democrats). (New York only does one registration tally prior to any primary; that tally is in April).

The burden is harder than it sounds, because voters may not sign for more than a single slate.

Itís obvious that the author of the Lopez Torres decision assumed, without checking first, that the 500-signature requirement per Assembly district is below 1%, because the opinion says, "We upheld a petition-signature requirement of 1% of the vote" in Munro v Socialist Workers Party." If that sentence were true, it would be irrelevant; the New York requirements are above 1%! But, as noted, clearly the opinion was written by someone who hadnít calculated the New York percentage.

(As an aside, another problem with the sentence in Lopez Torres is that it isnít true. The Munro case had nothing to do with petitions; the Washington state ballot access barrier concerned a requirement that a minor party candidate poll 1% of the vote in the blanket primary. There was no 1% petition requirement).

One reads the opinion for any hint that the decision expands the rights of political parties to control their own nomination process. But the decision appears not to extend party rights. It says, "A political party has a First Amendment right to limit its membership as it wishes, and to choose a candidate-selection process that will in its view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform." So far, so good, if one supports political party autonomy.

But in the very next sentence, the opinion retreats. It says, "These rights are circumscribed, however, when the State gives the party a role in the election process Ė as New York has done here by giving certain parties the right to have their candidates on the general-election ballot."

So, now we learn that a political party doesnít necessarily have any associational rights if it wants to be on the ballot! Back to Square One. The opinion continues by pointing out that a state may require a party not to discriminate against any voter on the basis of race. Then it says, "And then also the State acquires a legitimate governmental interest in assuring the fairness of the partyís nominating process, enabling it to prescribe what that process must be. We have, for example, considered it to be Ďtoo plain for argumentí that a State may prescribe party use of primaries or conventions to select nominees." The opinion then cites American Party of Texas v White.

This passage from the opinion is doubly infuriating. First, it misrepresents what American Party of Texas said about the right of parties to choose between a convention and a primary. The Texas case only decided that a state is free to tell a small political party that it may not have a taxpayer-funded primary, even though that same state might give tax-funded primaries to major parties. The separate issue of whether a state may tell a party that it must nominate by primary has never been decided by any federal court (in 1990 the California Libertarian Party filed a lawsuit for the right to hold a supplemental convention after its primary, but that is not the same issue).

But the passage is even more infuriating, because it says that states have an interest in forcing parties to be internally democratic. Generally, when an opinion curtails voting rights, it explains why the state has a need for the restriction. This opinion fails to mention any state interest in sham elections for Delegate. The only state interest it mentions (internal party democracy) is exactly what the plaintiffs wanted, not the state!

On page six, the opinion says, "Both the Republican and Democratic state parties have intervened to defend New Yorkís electoral law." Actually, the Democratic Party of New York state never intervened in the lawsuit. Among Democrats, only the New York County Democratic Party intervened in the case on the side of the law (the state and national Republican Parties did support the law). New York County is the same entity as Manhatten Borough. Only 8.1% of New York state residents live in New York County.

On page eight, the opinion says that Lopez Torres complained that she canít elect her candidates for Delegate because the party leadership inevitably garners more votes for its slate of delegates. Actually, Lopez Torres made no such claim. She complained that she canít get a slate of delegates on the ballot.

The unanimous decision was signed by Justice Antonin Scalia. There are two concurrences. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a single paragraph to say that just because a law is stupid, it doesnít mean it is unconstitutional. That was co-signed by Justice David Souter. Justice Anthony Kennedy is the only justice who didnít sign the Courtís opinion. He wrote separately to mention the Storer v Brown test of ballot access laws (that test, as noted above, is that laws so strict that they are seldom used are probably unconstitutional). However, he said that test doesnít apply to primary ballot access, as long as the general election ballot access requirements are lenient. New York permits candidates for Justice of the Supreme Court to run as independent candidates, or as the nominees of unqualified parties, if they get either 3,500 signatures, or 4,000 signatures (depending on the district). In Brooklyn, as of 2007, that works out to a petition signed by .28% of the eligible signers. Kennedyís concurrence was co-signed by Justice Stephen Breyer. While it is good that Kennedy noted the Storer usage test, Kennedyís concurrence also seems to suggest that if primary ballot access is easy, that excuses draconian general election ballot access requirements.

If that is what he is suggesting, his idea is contradicted by both Williams v Rhodes and Anderson v Celebrezze. George Wallace was free to run in the 1968 Ohio Democratic presidential primary with only 1,000 signatures, and so John B. Anderson was also free to run in the 1980 Ohio Republican presidential primary, also with 1,000 signatures. Yet both of them won in the U.S. Supreme Court against laws that kept them off the November ballot.

Furthermore, if one were to propound the theory that easy primary ballot access excuses draconian general election ballot access, that would conflict with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that seem to give political parties the right to exclude candidates from their primaries if the candidates do not seem loyal to that particular party (see the accompanying story about the Kucinich primary ballot access case).

A Silver Lining

Sometimes a court opinion has influence based not on what it actually says, but on how people perceive it.

Press coverage of the decision says that the decision merely says there is nothing unconstitutional about letting parties use conventions, instead of primaries. That is not what the case was about, but since virtually everyone thinks that was the issue, this ameliorates the harm the decision might otherwise do to ballot access jurisprudence. Also, since even sophisticated people seem to think the decision expands the right of political parties to run their own affairs, the effect of the decision will be to encourage that trend, even though the language of the decision does not support that conclusion.

One more helpful consequence of the decision is that it says the reason for restrictive ballot access laws is to keep the ballot manageable (page seven). The decision then ties that conclusion to Jenness v Fortson, the 1971 decision that upheld a 5% petition. Oddly enough, Jenness never said that the reason for the requirement is to keep the ballot from being too crowded.

So, at least when future ballot access cases are argued, it will be easier to show that the state interest behind restrictive ballot access laws is to keep ballots from being cluttered with too many names. That, in turn, will help to focus the argument in concrete evidence about ballot-crowding, instead of amorphous arguments about "stability."


3 STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTIES WIN LAWSUITS

During January 2008, the Democratic Parties of Michigan, Nevada and Texas won lawsuits of their right to control their own nominations process. All three involved presidential delegate selection. Thus, the legal trend for political party autonomy continues.

Michigan: on January 7, a federal court refused to stop the state Democratic Party from using the results of the January 15 presidential primary to apportion delegates. There is no written opinion, just a one-page order from U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker, a Bush Jr. appointee. However, orally, the judge said that an ordinary Democratic voter has no standing in federal court to challenge party rules. The plaintiff, Martha Hayes, had pointed out that the Michigan Democratic presidential primary ballot omitted Barack Obama and John Edwards, and that therefore she was being disenfranchised. The case is Hayes v Michigan Democratic Party, 1:07-cv-1237.

The Michigan Democratic Party has been told by the national Democratic Party that it canít have any delegates to the national convention. Nevertheless, the state party is proceeding to choose delegates in accordance with the primary results, just in case the national party later gives in.

Nevada: on January 17, a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the state Democratic Party, over whether the party is free to run its presidential caucuses according to its own rules, or whether it must follow state election law. The party had set up at-large caucus locations in business establishments with at least 4,000 employees.

State law regulates caucuses and doesnít provide for such at-large extra caucuses. The judge ruled orally that the party has a right to determine its own caucus rules. There is no written opinion yet. The case is Chesnut v Democratic Party of Nevada, 2:08cv-46. The business establishments in question were large casino-hotels. Ironically, even though supports of Hillary Clinton filed the lawsuit to stop the caucuses at those locations, at 7 of those 9 contested locations, Clinton got more votes than any other Democrat.

Texas: on January 11, U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel, a Bush, Jr. appointee, ruled from the bench that Dennis Kucinich should not be on the Texas Democratic primary ballot. He issued his order, explaining his reasoning, on January 17. Also on January 17, the 5th circuit refused to order Kucinich onto the ballot. The three 5th circuit judges were Jacques Wiener and Emilio Garza (Bush Sr. appointees) and Edward Prado (a Bush Jr. appointee).

On January 18, the U.S. Supreme Court also refused to order Kucinich put on the ballot. The issue was whether Kucinich could be required to sign an oath, saying he would "fully support" the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. The U.S. District Court said a party has a right not to associate with candidates who refuse to sign its oath.

Texas election law does not explicitly give political parties the right to require candidates to sign such oaths. Sec. 191.002 says, "Candidates qualify to have their names placed on the presidential primary ballot in the manner provided by party rule, subject to this section." However, it goes on to say that parties may require a petition, and gives details about that. It doesnít expressly give parties to require anything else. Therefore, this case is one more example that parties have the right to run their own nominations process, regardless of election law.

Although Kucinich withdrew from the presidential race, he will pursue this case, and hope to persuade the 5th circuit that the lower court is wrong.


PETITIONING VICTORY

On January 16, the California State Court of Appeals invalidated a state law that requires local initiative petitions to be circulated by people who live in that jurisdiction. Preserve Shorecliff Homeowners v City of San Clemente. The vote was 3-0.

The decision says, "Circulator restrictions may actually hinder local grass roots petition efforts. Not every local cause is supported by people who have the free time and energy to devote hours to manning tables at large shopping centers for hours on endÖA restriction on outside circulators necessarily discriminates against some local causes in favor of others."


MORE LAWSUIT NEWS

Alabama: on January 7, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Swanson v Chapman, the ballot access case filed in 2002. Unfortunately, the attorney filed the cert petition one day too late, and the Court refused to overlook the error.

Hawaii: on January 16, the state Democratic Party decided not to file a lawsuit to obtain a closed primary for itself.

Idaho: on January 12, the state Republican Party State Central Committee passed a resolution 89-39 authorizing the party to file a lawsuit to obtain a closed primary for itself.

Indiana: on January 9, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Indiana voter-ID case. The more conservative justices seemed zealously in favor of the law, whereas the other justices seemed uncertain. An opinion is likely in April or May.

Michigan: on January 11, the Green and Libertarian Parties (which are ballot-qualified) and the Reform (which is not) filed a joint lawsuit against the law that says the list of voters at the January 15 presidential primary should be given only to the Democratic and Republican Parties. Green Party of Michigan v Land, 2:08cv-10149. Under the law, the Secretary of State need not turn over the list until March 27.

New Mexico: on January 3, a Democratic congressional candidate filed a lawsuit in state court, to restore the petition option for a candidate to get on a major party primary ballot. Last yearís legislature had abolished that option, so that no one may run in a primary unless he or she has at least 20% support at a party endorsements convention. There will be a hearing in February. Wiviott v State, Santa Fe District Court, 101cv-2008-22.

New York: on January 16, a U.S. District Court in Albany approved a settlement, in which the state promises to eliminate mechanical voting machines in 2009. U.S. v N.Y. State Bd. of Elections. Federal law requires states to eliminate them by 2006.

North Carolina: on January 30, the Wake County Superior Court hears the ballot access case filed by the Libertarian Party in 2005. The Green Party joined the case in 2007. Libertarian Party of N.C. v State Bd. of Elections, 05-cvs-13073.

Pennsylvania (1): on December 28, the State Supreme Court construed a law favorably to ballot access. Candidates who file for state and local office must simultaneously file a statement of their economic interests. The Court ruled that if the statement has an error in it, it can be corrected later, and the candidateís ballot position is not threatened. Nomination Petition of Paulmier, no. 172 EAL 2007.

Pennsylvania (2): on January 23, the State Supreme Court refused to rehear the Romanelli matter (requiring a candidate whose petition fails, to pay for the costs of determining that the petition didnít have enough names). On January 25, the Commonwealth Court re-did its specific findings in the same matter (the State Supreme Court had told that lower court to re-do the order). Now Carl Romanelli will return to the State Supreme Court to argue that the Commonwealth Courtís revised version is still inadequate. In the meantime, a federal challenge to the whole issue of charging candidates is being prepared.

Tennessee: on January 23, the Constitution, Libertarian, and Green Parties filed a lawsuit against the ballot access law for new parties, which is so harsh, it hasnít been used since 1968. Libertarian Party of Tennessee v Thompson, 3:08cv-63.

Federal law: on January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Davis v Federal Election Commission, 07-320. The issue is that part of the McCain-Feingold law which relaxes contribution limits when one of the candidates in a federal race spends at least $350,000 of his or her own money. The plaintiff, Jack Davis, had been a Democratic nominee for U.S. House in upstate New York in both 2004 and 2006. He spent more than $350,000 of his own money, and argues that contributors to his Republican incumbent should not have been permitted to escape the normal limits.


NEW ACCESS BILLS

Missouri: SB 797 would let new parties circulate their petitions, without any need to list presidential elector candidates, or presidential or vice-presidential candidates.

Missouri(2): HB 1310 would require all independent candidates to file a declaration of candidacy in March. Since the law even includes presidential candidates, it is unconstitutional under Anderson v Celebrezze.

Pennsylvania: Representative Kerry Benninghoffís bill to abolish mandatory ballot access petitions would have been introduced by now, but the first draft of the bill had an error and had to be re-done. It should be introduced the first week in February.

Washington: HB 1534, introduced for the Secretary of State to improve ballot access, had a hearing on January 23. The bill had a good reception, and is being rewritten to make it even better.

West Virginia: SB 49 eases the vote test. Current law requires a party to poll 1% for Governor; the bill would say any state statewide office counts.

West Virginia (2): HB3144 lowers the petition for minor party and independent candidates from 2% of the last vote cast, to 1%.


2008 PETITIONING FOR PRESIDENT

STATE
REQUIREMENTS
SIGNATURES COLLECTED
DEADLINES
FULL PARTY
CAND
LIB'T
GREEN
CONSTI
INDP/REF
Party
Indp.

Alabama

37,513

5,000

0

0

0

0

June 3

Sep. 8

Alaska

(reg) 7,124

#3,128

already on

*3,458

0

0

Aug. 6

Aug. 6

Ariz.

20,449

est. #22,500

already on

*9,200

*100

0

Mar. 6

June 4

Arkansas

10,000

#1,000

already on

already on

already on

0

June 30

Aug. 4

Calif.

(reg) 88,991

158,372

already on

already on

already on

29,477

Dec. 31, 07

Aug. 8

Colorado

(reg) 1,000

pay $500

already on

already on

already on

273

June 1

June 17

Conn.

no procedure

#7,500

0

0

0

0

- - -

Aug. 6

Delaware

(reg) *284

*5,674

already on

already on

already on

already on

Aug. 12

July 15

D.C.

no procedure

est. #3,900

canít start

already on

canít start

canít start

- - -

Aug. 19

Florida

be organized

104,334

already on

already on

already on

already on

Sep. 2

July 15

Georgia

44,089

#42,489

already on

2,500

0

0

July 8

July 8

Hawaii

663

4,291

already on

*220

*85

0

Apr. 3

Sep. 5

Idaho

11,968

5,984

already on

0

already on

0

Aug. 29

Aug. 25

Illinois

no procedure

#25,000

canít start

already on

canít start

canít start

- - -

June 23

Indiana

no procedure

#32,742

already on

0

0

0

- - -

June 30

Iowa

no procedure

#1,500

0

0

0

0

- - -

Aug. 15

Kansas

16,994

5,000

already on

0

0

already on

June 2

Aug. 4

Kentucky

no procedure

#5,000

0

0

0

0

- - -

Sep. 2

La.

(reg) 1,000

pay $500

already on

already on

47

already on

May 22

Sep. 2

Maine

27,544

#4,000

0

already on

0

0

Dec 14, 07

Ag 15

Maryland

10,000

est. 32,500

already on

already on

0

0

Aug. 4

Aug. 4

Mass.

est. (reg) 40,500

#10,000

19,253

already on

65

0

Feb. 1

July 29

Michigan

38,024

38,024

already on

already on

already on

0

July 17

July 17

Minnesota

110,150

#2,000

0

0

0

already on

July 15

Sep. 9

Mississippi

be organized

1,000

already on

already on

already on

already on

Jan. 10

Sep. 5

Missouri

10,000

10,000

already on

0

finished

0

July 28

July 28

Montana

5,000

#5,000

already on

650

already on

0

Mar. 13

July 30

Nebraska

5,921

2,500

*8,300

already on

already on

0

Aug. 1

Aug. 26

Nevada

5,746

5,746

already on

already on

already on

0

July 3

July 3

N. Hamp.

12,524

#3,000

*2,000

0

0

0

Aug. 6

Aug. 6

New Jersey

no procedure

#800

0

0

0

0

- - -

July 28

New Mex.

2,794

16,764

already on

already on

*600

0

Apr. 1

June 4

New York

no procedure

#15,000

can't start

can't start

can't start

already on

- - -

Aug. 19

No. Car.

69,734

69,734

*93,000

9,000

100

0

May 16

June 12

No. Dakota

7,000

#4,000

already on

0

already on

0

Apr. 11

Sep. 5

Ohio

20,114

5,000

8,400

0

*9,500

0

Aug 21

Aug. 21

Oklahoma

46,324

43,913

400

0

0

0

May 1

July 15

Oregon

20,640

18,356

already on

already on

already on

already on

Aug. 26

Aug. 26

Penn.

no procedure

*#24,666

canít start

canít start

canít start

canít start

- - -

Aug. 1

Rhode Isl.

18,557

#1,000

0

0

0

0

May 30

Sep. 5

So. Caro.

10,000

10,000

already on

already on

already on

already on

May 4

July 15

So. Dakota

8,389

3,356

1,500

0

*8,500

0

Mar. 25

Aug. 5

Tennessee

45,254

25

*in court

*in court

*in court

0

unsettled

Aug. 21

Texas

43,991

74,108

already on

canít start

canít start

canít start

May 19

*May 12

Utah

2,000

#1,000

*2,300

300

already on

0

Feb. 15

Sep. 2

Vermont

be organized

#1,000

already on

already on

already on

0

Jan. 1

Sep. 12

Virginia

no procedure

#10,000

0

*300

0

0

- - -

Aug. 22

Wash.

no procedure

#1,000

canít start

canít start

canít start

canít start

- - -

July 26

West Va.

no procedure

#15,118

0

already on

*8,300

0

- - -

Aug. 1

Wisconsin

10,000

#2,000

already on

already on

0

0

June 2

Sep. 2

Wyoming

3,868

3,868

already on

0

*200

0

June 2

Aug. 25

TOTAL STATES ON
27
21
15
*9
`

#partisan label is permitted (other than "independent").
* means entry changed since Jan. 1, 2008 B.A.N.
When "reg." appears in the "Full Party" column, it means the party must have a certain number of registered voters.
See p. 6 for "Indp/Ref" definition.


UNITY08 WITHDRAWS

On January 10, Unity08 sent its members a lengthy e-mail, announcing that it is giving up its goal of trying to create a ballot-qualified party across the nation, and then letting its members choose a presidential nominee who would use the organizationís ballot status.

The chief reason is money. Unity08 rightly lambasts the Federal Election Commission for a stifling ruling in 2006 that limited individual contributions to Unity08 to only $5,000. The ruling was wrong. The purpose of campaign contribution limits is to prevent bribery. In this case, Unity08 had no candidate, so there was no one who could be bribed. There should have been no limit on contributions to Unity08, just as there was no limit on how much money anyone could give the Reform Party when Ross Perot formed it in 1995. After a group earns "National Committee" status with the FEC, the McCain-Feingold law limits contributions to it to approximately $27,000 per year. But a group that has never yet run a presidential candidate does not qualify for "National Committee" status.

The Unity08 web page has the explanation for why it shut down at www.unity08.org. Unity08ís lawsuit against the FEC is still pending, and if the case wins, Unity08 might start up again.


SOCIALIST WORKERS TICKET

On January 6, the Socialist Workers Party announced that its 2008 ticket will be Roger Calero for President, and Alyson Kennedy for Vice-President. Since Calero was born in Nicaragua, a stand-in will be needed in some states.


LIBERTY UNION PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

Brian Moore, 2008 Socialist Party presidential nominee, is the only person who filed to be on the Liberty Union presidential primary in Vermont, so he will win the primary. Under party rules, the primary is binding. Liberty Union earned its first presidential primary since 1996, when it polled over 5% for one statewide race in 2006.


INDEPENDENCE PARTY GOES NATIONAL

The New York Independence Party, which was once a state affiliate of the national Reform Party, has been working to create a national Independence Party. On January 26, the Independence Party of Minnesota joined the effort. Also, the faction of the national Reform Party that is headed by Rodney Martin and John Blare is participating.

The petitioning chart on page 5 has a new column labeled "Independence/Reform". The parties that are already on the ballot, in that column, are the Independence Parties of Minnesota, New York, and South Carolina; the Reform Parties of Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi; and the Independent Parties of Delaware and Oregon. The chart does not mean to suggest that all of these ballot-qualified parties are necessarily part of the new Independence Party. However, it is plausible that each of them might join in. Another ballot-qualified party that might join is the Natural Law Party of Michigan.

The Independent Green Party of Virginia has also joined. It is not ballot-qualified but is circulating a petition for Michael Bloomberg; already it has 2,500 signatures.


TEXAS POTENTIAL PARTIES

Texas requires parties that want to petition for ballot status to notify the state by January 2. Parties that did so are Constitution, Green, New American Independent, Reform, and Texas Independence. The Libertarian Party is already on. No Democrat filed to run for one statewide office, and the Libertarian Party does have a candidate for that particular office, so Libertarians are virtually certain to poll 5% in that race this year and remain on the ballot for 2010.


PARTY FOR SOCIALISM & LIBERATION

On January 18, the Party for Socialism and Liberation announced its national ticket: Gloria La Riva for president, and Eugene Puryear for vice-president. The party has never before run any candidates for public office, and is only a few years old.


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