Monday, August 21, 2006

Kelly Clark Files Complaint to Boot Starrett From Ballot

Here's something I missed all weekend, but which Carla blurbed a little bit in Spanning the State yesterday. The things you learn reading your own blog! As the headline indicates, attorney and Measure 36 jackass Kelly Clark wants Constitution Party candidate Mary Starrett kicked off the November goobernatorial ballot. Ridenbaugh Press' Randy Stapilus gave it a little deeper treatment at his page, quoting the players and examining the rules involved for small-party candidates:
...a requirement (cited in a Secretary of State manual) of minor political parties, such as the Constitution, [states] that “If a nominating convention is held, the following requirements must be met: The chair publishes notice of the minor political party nominating convention at least once in not less than three newspapers of general circulation in the electoral district. The notice must include all of the following information: time and place of the nominating convention and office or offices to which candidates will be nominated.”

The Associated Press quotes Clark as saying, “We searched every major newspaper, and we could not find any indication that they [the Oregon Constititution Party] publicized a notice of their convention.” If so, that might - there’s some uncertainty - be enough to toss Starrett off the ballot.

That’s countered by the Oregon Constitution Party’s Jack Brown, who said the party published notice in papers where the party was organized. Could it be that both are right - and that those are simply smaller newspapers? If so, that would seem to meet the “three newspapers of general circulation” requirement. Either way, we should get a clearer indication early next week. No doubt both sides are trying to nail down facts over the weekend. If the complaint does hold up, it would mark one of the most obscure election law violations ever to throw a statewide candidate off a ballot. (And at a fairly late stage in the process, too.)
Monday I'll try giving somebody in the CP a call, since it seems a relatively simple matter for them to detail which papers they bought space in. There doesn't appear to be any restrictions on which papers must be used, only that they're "general circulation." If subsequent checking pans out, that should pretty well kill Clark's gambit...or not:
The complaint asks the secretary of state's office to remove Starrett's name from the ballot by Wednesday, Clark said.

If that request is denied, then a lawsuit will be filed in Marion County Circuit Court seeking to invalidate Starrett's nomination, he said.

Clark said the complaint was not filed in coordination with the Saxton campaign or Oregon Republican Party solely as a way to keep a potential spoiler candidate such as Starrett off the November ballot.

Instead, he said he filed the complaint on behalf of several individual voters, some of whom are supporters of Saxton, who were concerned about an apparent election law violation.
I love it. If the request is denied, he'll take them to court. He knows that now, before a decision has even been rendered? He might as well go ahead and appeal now, and get the jump on things. And then there's the question of why he filed: it wasn't filed on behalf of Saxton...just on behalf of Saxton supporters who have exactly the same goal as Saxton (seeing Saxton become goobernor).

As Starrett herself points out, this really seems like a move of desperation. Saxton's only chance is to sit just to the right of center and pick off Oregon independents. But if he does that, he risks the ire and taunting of Starrett, who is all too happy to label Saxton as a RINO. But tellingly, the Saxton campaign says they didn't think this up, didn't talk to Clark about it, and really didn't want it used as a political gambit. If this challenge doesn't pan out, there goes Clark's Christmas card from the Saxton family this year.

Update, 8/22 9AM--
See today's post updating the situation. Shorter LO: Kelly Clark is an idiot.