CHUCK BALDWIN & RON PAUL ARE WRITE-IN CANDIDATES IN CALIFORNIA
1:00 AM Eastern
by Sarah Foster
October 27, 2008
© 2008 NewsWithViews.com
It's official. Voters in the Golden State will be able to cast a ballot for Rev. Chuck Baldwin or Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) on Nov. 4. In a list posted Friday, California's Secretary of State named both as certified write-in candidates for President, along with James Harris, of the Socialist Workers Party, and Frank Moore, independent.
This means that write-in votes for Baldwin and Paul in California will be counted, as will those for Harris and Moore, although it could be weeks before the actual numbers are reported.
"This is truly participatory democracy, something everyone talks about but seldom has the chance to do anything about," said Gail Lightfoot of San Luis Obispo, a former chair of the Libertarian Party of California, who spearheaded the drive to gather the signatures needed to qualify Paul, and is listed as the vice-presidential candidate.
"Now if only a write-in candidate had a real chance to win the election. That would really change America in a very positive way," she said.
Lightfoot's efforts to qualify the Texas congressman as a write-in candidate has not been without its critics. There are concerns that this will take votes away from Baldwin, the Constitution Party's nominee, that Paul endorsed last month, or from Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia who is running for president on the Libertarian Party ticket.
Paul has also urged voters who are dissatisfied with the two major parties and their nominees to cast their votes for candidates of ballot-qualified third-parties — such as the Constitution and Libertarian parties — because write-in votes in many states are not counted.
But for Paul and Baldwin the political situation in California is different in certain respects from most other states.
First, votes for write-in candidates are counted if certain requirements are met — and they were. Namely, a slate of 55 presidential elector candidates must be filed on behalf of any write-in presidential candidate, and each of the 55 candidates must fill out and have notarized a declaration-of-candidacy form. However, the presidential candidate does not have to file a statement; and while Baldwin and his running mate Darrell Castle filed forms, Ron Paul did not.
Second, neither Baldwin's name nor the Constitution Party are on the California ballot. Instead, Alan Keyes — a former ambassador to the United Nations — is the presidential candidate for the American Independent Party, the state affiliate of the Constitution Party.
The only way Baldwin himself can receive any votes in that state and have those votes counted is as an official write-in candidate. Had he not obtained write-in status, voters who supported Paul but are willing to vote for Baldwin were he on the ballot, would have been completely out of luck, along with those AIP members who might prefer to vote for Baldwin rather than Keyes.
Chuck Baldwin's California Dilemma
But what's going on here? Why is Keyes running instead of Baldwin on the AIP ticket, forcing the latter to go the write-in route.
According to an entry in Wikipedia, the American Independent Party has been the California affiliate of the national Constitution Party (formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party), since 1992, but it is a separate organization. Earlier this year a faction within the AIP broke with the Constitution Party and gave the ballot line (which it controlled) to Alan Keyes, candidate of the similarly-named America's Independent Party he had founded.
The dustup occurred at the Constitution Party's national convention in Kansas City this past April. After three failed bids for the GOP's presidential nomination (in 1996, 2000 and 2008), Keyes decided to throw his hat in the ring for top-spot on the CP ticket, although he had had little to do with the party before then and later admitted he never actually joined.
But while Keyes is a celebrity, recognized nation-wide for his fiery speech-making, Baldwin is better known within the party itself. In addition to being a talk-show host and syndicated columnist (his columns appear regularly in NewsWithViews.com and other publications), he was the party's vice-presidential nominee in 2004. More importantly, his views are in sync with what the CP stands for as stated in its Platform.
Insiders within the CP say Keyes' views are simply not a "good fit" with the party's Platform and principles.
So it wasn't surprising that in what observers describe as one of the most contentious convention battles in the CP's 16-year history, Baldwin won by a wide margin, 384-to-126. Nonetheless, his victory over Keyes has been reported as being something of an upset.
In his acceptance speech, Baldwin tried to reach out to Keyes whom he considered a friend, asking him to work with the CP. But Keyes was not about to shake hands and endorse his opponent.
"No way, no how," he told Prime Buzz, a politically-oriented section of the Kansas City Star newspaper. "[Baldwin's] policies of appeasement and non-involvement [in foreign affairs] are irresponsible and unsustainable."
But Constitution Party spokeswoman Mary Starrett sharply disagreed, and explained to reporters that Keyes "doesn't square up on our platform on some very serious issues" — one of which is the war in Iraq.
Party members want to get out of the unconstitutional war now, while Keyes wasn't as eager to withdraw, Starrett said.
Another key difference — Prime Buzz noted — was over U.S. membership in the United Nations. Starrett and other party members hold that the Constitution does not sanction the U.N. and that the U.S. needs not only to pull out of the body, but "kick its headquarters out of the country." This is stated unequivocally in the Foreign Policy section of the CP Platform. (A similar plank demanding withdrawal from the U.N. was in the Libertarian Party Platform from its founding in 1972, but has recently been deleted).
Keyes had apparently not read the Platform, or if he had did not agree with it, and said such a move would be "unconstitutional" because U.S. treaties provide for America's involvement with the U.N.
Clearly, certain lines were drawn in the sand at Kansas City and extended all the way to California where a faction within the AIP named Keyes as the party's nominee — leaving Baldwin off the ballot in a key state. Being a write-in candidate may help overcome some of the damage, but his total vote count there will not be as great as could otherwise be expected.
The Libertarian Party Rift
Libertarians face a different kind of dilemma: dissatisfaction with their presidential candidate Bob Barr, who won the nomination in May at the party's national convention in Denver. It was more or less assumed that many of the people who had worked for Ron Paul in his bid for the GOP presidential nomination would vote for the Libertarian Party nominee, whose name and that of the party are on the ballot in California.
But many LP members are unhappy with the party's standard bearer. Barr's voting record in Congress has been condemned as being anything but libertarian (for starters, he voted for the PATRIOT ACT), and his actions on certain occasions have struck many as alienating and downright offensive.
There was his spurning of Ron Paul's press conference on Sept. 10, an event to which he had already committed. Not only did Barr wait until the last minute to notify the organizers that he wouldn't be there, he scheduled a press conference of his own to be held an hour or so after Paul's. This outraged some Libertarians so much that for a time there was talk of removing Barr as the presidential candidate.
Ten days later Paul endorsed Baldwin for president, a quiet payback for Barr's snub.
Just this past week Barr, citing scheduling conflicts, turned down an invitation to appear with Baldwin and Ralph Nader (Independent) in a debate for third-party candidates on C-SPAN, thereby missing a chance to present the Libertarian perspective on current issues to a wide audience.
Such conduct (and there have been other incidents) has not sat well with Libertarian activists, especially those who have been long-involved with the party — like Eric Garris, director of the popular website www.antiwar.com.
In a notice he posted at www.lewrockwell.com.blog announcing the success of the write-in effort, Garris said he contributed $200 to Barr early in the campaign, but was withdrawing his support.
"I am so disappointed with his campaign that I am serving as an elector for Ron Paul from California, and will be writing him in on my ballot," Garris declared.
Lightfoot has explained through e-mails and press releases her personal motivation for embarking on the write-in effort, much of which was coordinated on the Internet.
She recalls: "I talked to several voters whom I met while I had Ron Paul signs on my car. They contacted me after the [Super Tuesday] election to ask how to vote for Ron Paul. Others who know me as a political activist were asking the same thing. It was obvious that after the two big primaries many voters were saying, 'Who can I, in good conscience, vote for this year' I really, really don't like the choices but I just saw Ron Paul's web site and I like him. How can I vote Ron Paul?"
"I kept hearing this and if I, one lone person, was hearing it — I wondered how much of a groundswell is there?"
Lightfoot figured that the way to find out was to get Paul officially listed as a write-in candidate so people could vote for him. From information gleaned from the Secretary of State's website and through phone calls it seemed a very "doable" project.
As a first step she contacted former supporters from her own partisan campaigns for statewide office during the past decade. A cadre of members of Ron Paul meet-up groups around the state spread the word, and soon over 70 "Declarations of Write-in Candidacy" forms of would-be electors were gathered — which were signed, notarized, and filed with the Secretary of State's office by the Oct. 21 deadline.
Because Lightfoot had started the ball rolling and kept track of the declarations it was agreed that she should be listed as vice-presidential candidate.
It was a lot of work, but worth it.
"I can easily say this has been lots more fun than actually running a campaign for partisan office," Lightfoot says. "All the feedback is positive and the accolades most appreciated. Never before has my life been so filled with Thank You letters!"
Important Advise from the Sec'y of State's Office
A staff person with the Secretary of State office in Sacramento told NewsWithViews.com that it is up to supporters of a write-in candidate to publicize the candidate's name and status and to make sure sympathetic voters know how to cast write-in ballots. There will be NO POSTED NOTICE at polling places announcing the names of official write-in candidates.
"That is the responsibility of the candidates and their supporters," she said.
The staffer also explained that writing-in a name is a two-step process. For such a ballot to be counted a voter must first indicate that the ballot contains a write-in vote. Then the name of the candidate is written in.
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A special page on the Secretary of State's website explains the procedures used in different counties for casting ballots, including write-ins. Click here for the link.
Ron Paul Endorses Constitution Party Candidate
Chuck Baldwin for President, Sept. 23, 2008
2. Ron Paul Calls on Voters to Support Third Party Candidates, Sept. 11, 2008
3. Over 10,000 Ron Paul Supporters "Rally for the Republic" in Minneapolis, Sept. 4, 2008
4. Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin? by Mary Starrett, July 1, 2008
stunner: Chuck Baldwin KOs firebrand Alan Keyes, by Steve Kraske,
April 26, 2008
2. Constitution Party Stunner II, by Steve Kraske, April 30, 2008
3. Let's start with the facts about Keyes? invite to the CP, by Mitch Turner, CP-Va State Committee, CP Nat'l Committee; May 1, 2008. Website at Constitution Party of Virginia.
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