Tag Archives: Libertarian Party

Raumesh Akbari wins House District 91 special election

Ballot access scores symbolic victory

Voters in part of Shelby County went to the polls in a special election that was called after the late Rep. Lois DeBerry passed away. Democratic Party nominee Raumesh Akbari, an attorney, won handily over Jim Tomasik, the Libertarian Party chairman, according to uncertified election results.

This is the first House of Representatives election of which I am aware that featured a Democrat, a Libertarian identified as such on the ballot, and no Republican. The district very heavily favors Democratic candidates.

Tomasik initially had been labeled as Independent, but sued in federal court to receive the Libertarian billing. He lost the election, but some observers would say that today’s election was a win for minor parties in their ongoing quest for ballot recognition.

Akbari will face a re-election bid in 2014, when all 99 seats in the House are up for election.

Federal court ruling allows Tomasik to run as Libertarian Party candidate

The same judge who in 2012 declared parts of the state’s ballot access laws unconstitutional has issued an injunction requiring the Shelby County Election Commission to list Jim Tomasik as a Libertarian Party candidate in the upcoming House District 91 election, reports Jackson Baker.

Tomasik, who is chairman of the Tennessee Libertarian Party, filed suit after being listed as an independent candidate. Among other things, the lawsuit claimed an undue burden on minor party members in light of meeting the deadlines for party recognition on the ballot.

Tomasik faces Democratic Party nominee Raumesh Akbari in the Nov. 21 general election. Early voting begins today.

The 2012 case is under appeal by the defendants, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins.

Minor parties continue to challenge ballot access laws

The Constitution Party of Tennessee and the Green Party of Tennessee have filed suit in federal court to ask that an earlier ruling which gave them a rather tenuous hold on ballot access be upheld; and that other provisions be cast as unconstitutional.

According to Courthouse News Service, the Constitution and Green parties cite the following as needing to be fixed: a requirement for an affidavit forswearing violent overthrows of government (which, by the way, the major parties don’t have to have); the unequal time requirements to meet all the obligations to maintain party recognition status; and the whole thing about having to start all over with the signatures.

The Times News has more.

Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party of Tennessee has a separate court challenge going. The party is suing so that its candidate in the Nov. 21 special election in House District 91, Jim Tomasik, will be recognized as a Libertarian instead of being listed as an Independent on that ballot.

Constitution and Green Parties gain ballot access

There is big news in the ongoing battle for minor party ballot recognition in Tennessee. If you’ll recall, a federal judge struck down Tennessee’s ballot access laws as unconstitutional, after a lawsuit by the respective state entities of the Constitution Party, the Green Party, and the Libertarian Party.

As a result, the Tennessee General Assembly changed the law in 2011. However, the parties saw the change as nominal at best, and so two of them (Constitution and Green) sued again. The court agreed, and issued a ruling that covers multiple fronts. From the Tennesseean, which Richard Winger faintly praised as the only news outlet to report on the story:

[Judge William J.] Haynes declared that minor parties cannot be forced to conduct primaries, as required by state law. Plaintiffs’ Attorney Alan Woodruff says primaries are too expensive for smaller parties, and that nominating conventions would relieve that burden.

The judge enjoined the state from banning the words “independent” and “nonpartisan” in a party’s name as it appears on a ballot, stating the ban violates free speech rights.

He said the state’s requirement that major parties be listed highest on ballots followed by minor parties was unlawful. He ordered the state to hold a drawing to determine ballot order.

Winger also correctly notes that the Nashville paper left out a key element of the story, namely that, based on past petition performance, the Constitution and Green parties are automatically included on the 2012 ballot in this state:

The decision also puts the Constitution and Green Parties on the 2012 ballot, based on the evidence that in the recent past, both parties did collect several thousand signatures on petitions to get on the Tennessee ballot.

Of course, now they need to round up some candidates to run. Also, I wonder if the Tennessee Libertarian Party regrets its decision not to join in the latest lawsuit. (That said, Winger points out that they may not have been automatically ballot-qualified even if they had.)

Incidentally, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in this suit is Alan Woodruff, who is running for Congress in the 1st District—as a “Blue Dog” Democrat.

Congressional race roundup, District One

Alan Woodruff is running for office in the 1st Congressional District. He calls himself a “Blue Dog” Democrat—an increasingly rare breed these days—and hopes to win the party’s nomination and go on to defeat the incumbent, Republican U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, in the 2012 general election.

Woodruff ran for Congress two years ago, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a Libertarian Party candidate. Or was it as a Green Party candidate? Both, actually. Sort of. He secured the nomination of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, and later changed his affiliation from Libertarian to Green. But then the Green Party was found not to have ballot access after failing to receive enough votes in 2008, and lost a challenge in the courts to have its candidates on the ballot.

Enter the Constitution Party of Tennessee, which, together with the Green Party of Tennessee, has filed a lawsuit challenging the new ballot access guidelines put in place after a federal judge ruled that the old ballot access laws were unconstitutionally restrictive. The new lawsuit claims that the reforms were not sufficient and thus ballot access by minor parties remains unfairly prohibitive. The two attorneys for the plaintiffs are Darrell Castle, the national Constitution Party’s nominee for Vice President in 2008; and Alan Woodruff.

In December, I asked Woodruff about his 2010 New Mexico run, his being listed as a candidate for multiple parties, and his decision to run as a Democrat in Tennessee while representing a third party’s lawsuit for greater ballot access.

He quickly answered with this response (excerpted):

In 2008, I was retained as attorney for a coalition [of] minor parties in New Mexico who wanted to challenge the state’s ballot access laws that impaired the ability of minor parties, and their candidates, to be included on the ballot. One of the laws we were challenging was a law barring “fusion” candidates — candidates nominated by more than one party. To have standing to challenge that law, I was nominated by both the [Libertarian] and Green parties. In the 2010 election cycle my candidacy was more for purposes of our lawsuit that any expectation of actually making the ballot or being elected.

…[M]y experience … advocating for the interests of disenfranchised voters motivated be to become a candidate for the 1st congressional district which has become so dominated by ultra conservatives that the average voter has no effective voice. Before my temporary relocation to New Mexico, I lived in Seviereville [sic], and voted Democratic and suffered the dominance of Republican control of the 1st District. Now I intend to change that.

I also asked the Tennessee Democratic Party if there were any concerns about having a congressional candidate running with their party affiliation but representing the Green and Constitution parties in the lawsuit. Brandon Puttbrese, party spokesman, replied that there were none, saying that “it’s a fairness issue. Is it fair that any party be blocked from the ballot? No.”

The first day to pick up petitions for the August 2012 primary is February 6. If no other candidates run, Roe and Woodruff will face each other in the November general election.