Tuesday, July 11, 2006

a Question about Joe's new party

I knew there was something about the new party, "Connecticut For Lieberman", that was bothering me, but it took me a while to figure out exactly what.

Back when Ned Lamont had his petition drive, there were all sorts of rules and regulations associated with the signature gathering. Specifically, you needed to be a registered Democrat to collect signatures for a Democratic candidate.

In fact, because I switched my party affiliation back in March from Republican to Democrat (a youthful mistake, coupled with years of indifference resulted in my being a Republican longer than Lieberman's been a Democratic Senator), I was inelegible to collect signatures. You see, there's a 90-day waiting period if you SWITCH parties before you get full party privilages. By the petitioning deadline, I still had a month to go. (BTW, I'm a 100% street-legal Democrat now)

An unaffiliated voter may choose to register with a party and enjoy immediate privilages. That's clear to me.

Which begs an obvious question.

Since Joe isn't running as an Independent (unaffiliated) candidate anymore but in fact is creating a new party to run with, how does that affect the petitioning process?

Can registered Democrats legally collect signatures for a political party that they aren't affiliated with?

And if they have to change parties from "Democrat" to the "Connecticut For Lieberman" party, will they have to endure the 90-day waiting period?

This, to me, seems like a good question.

Anyone want to weigh in on it?


Anonymous said...

Hey Bob!

I just posted this very question to you under the comments section in another post (ya know, the one with grammar).

(Just as an FYI, here it is almost 7pm, dinner is late and I am a little woosy from waiting too long, so pardon the relative incoherence).

It seems that you should not be able to register as a new party while running under another. Look at this from a war chest perspective-- can Lieberman now run as a Dem, collect donations as a Dem, loose to Ned, then take those same funds that he raised as a Dem to his new party?

There has got to be something, somewhere that addresses this, and the starting point may be the 90 day wait that you identified.

Too bad I am not a CT resident, never was, and am halfway across the globe. I am happy to look into this, just give me a few link pointers.

Think about it, Lieberman, if he is getting money from the Dem party, he could wipe out the kitty so that Lamont will have nothing for November.

CT Bob said...

Good points. I think, though, that the individual candidates are mostly responsible for their fundraising, so the State Democratic Party won't have a war chest to deplete.

However, they DO have a lot of weight with other Dems and fund raisers. I'd be somewhat concerned that Joe was going to turn his back on the party if I was them, but they seem more concerned with the status quo than with political realities like loyalty and playing by the rules.

Anonymous said...

A party primary has special rules to protect the party system from "outside agitators." It keeps the opposition from trying to screw with you. General Elections are a whole different animal.

While only "party members" can establish the party with the Secretary of State, anyone can collect signatures for a petitioning candidate. Actually establishing a party enables the candidate to control who appears on their line with them, and moves them up the ballot above independents.

As far as I know, the party does not contribute to any candidate in the primaries, only the general election. So Lieberman is not getting any cash from the state party (except cash he may have stashed from previous runs - but he probably blew all that in '04).

And Lieberman will not be changing his party affiliation (so far). He doesn't have to. It's his bogus party that is technically running him in the election, and you can nominate anyone you like, from any party you like.

As a caveat, there used to be arcane rules about running against the party, and most importantly you would lose all your seniority. Back in 1970 Tom Dodd (yep, Chris' father) ran as an independent after losing the (re)nomination to Joe Duffy (who had prominent campaign workers named Clinton, Rodham, and Lieberman). The day before the election Dodd changed to unaffiliated, so if he won he could reregister as a Dem in a few weeks time and rejoin the party caucus, keeping his rank. Dodd lost, but cost Duffy the election to (!) Lowell Weicker.

Amazing how these things all come 'round. If HoJoe loses in August he'll be on the JoeBlows party line, and you can expect him to quietly unaffiliate the day before the election.

Anonymous said...

I believe technically because "Connecticut for Leiberman" is not an official party yet anyone can collect the signatures? The best place to ask abt this is over at ballot-access.org, Richard Winger, who runs that site and publishes Ballot Access News, is the guy as far as ballot access laws. I'm sure if you emailed him he would give you an answer.

Anonymous said...

Another troubling question is campaign finance. Lieberman, if he loses the primary and runs as on the Connecticut for Lieberman ticket will be bound by the same campaign contribution limits as any major candidate.

But will his new political party be able to field unlimited contributions and redirect them all to his campaign? Is that legal? Or is it simply going to be a horrible byproduct of Joe's sore-loser strategy?

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