Some things have changed since I wrote my who’s who for the Wisconsin 2010 ballot. Four candidates have been bumped from the ballot. Two challenges that sought to bump Democratic candidates Toss Kolosso and Rep. Tammy Baldwin form the ballot have been dismissed. And one candidate who’s running as an independent has been made to run as… an independent.
• What’s in a candidate’s name? As reported here, Ieshuh Griffin is seeking to win the open seat left by the retirement of Rep. Polly Williams (D-Milwaukee). The Journal Sentinel in turn has reported that Ms. Griffin will not be able have the slogan “NOT the ‘whiteman’s bitch’ ” under her name on the ballot as she wished to. Instead, she will simply be listed as an independent. Griffin in turn declared that she plans to sue the state Government Accountability Board for infringing on her freedom of speech.
While I’m not a constitutional scholar, I believe that the government does have some right or ability to determine just how much freedom of speech people have. There’s the classic case of yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater: just because you can do it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. As a UCC minister wrote, “the law is about precedent, jurisprudence and community standards. It reflects morality and is governed by it to a certain extent, but it isn’t the same thing.”
While I doubt Ms. Griffin’s desired ballot slogan would cause a panic or incite violence, the GAB does have the ability to decide what goes on the ballot. If she wants to, she’s free to print whatever she wants on her literature or web site. No one will stop her from doing that. I think that’s a testimony to where the very fine line of free speech falls. It’s one thing to do it in your private life or privately-funded printed material, but a whole ‘nother matter when you try to do it through the government. Curiously, that is where the government is most likely to have something to say about it.
• Four candidates are off the 2010 ballot. In the 13th Assembly district, which covers parts of Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, is represented by Democratic Rep. David Cullen. Republican and Constitution party challengers were planning to run for his seat, until the aforementioned GAB ruled that the Republican candidate Procopis had not gathered enough signatures. You need a minimum of two hundred signatures by district residents for such state and local races, but Procopis turned in only 192. This means Procopis is off the ballot.
Frankly, this is a an embarrassment for the party and the candidate. I wonder what stopped Procopis from doing this. For my county board bid in 2008, my wife and I gathered over 300 signatures in the dead of winter. Procopis had the change to do it in warm weather, but somehow couldn’t. As a democracy geek, I feel a touch disappointed by this. This was supposed to be the year of the great Republican comeback, but in this race, they’re not even in the race. Procopis’s failure to gather the minimum signatures leaves Constitution Party candidate Lisa Decker as Rep. Cullen’s sole challenger on the ticket. This could be the big year for the Constitution Party in Wisconsin. Stay tuned!
In the 1st Congressional District, independent candidate William Tucker needed at least 1,000 valid signatures, but turned in only 977. Still on the ballot are incumbent GOP golden boy Rep. Paul Ryan, Democrat John Heckenlively and Libertarian Joseph Kexel.
Next, Andrew Wisniewski, a Republican candidate for the 25th Assembly District, was first rejected but then accepted for the ballot. A story in The Capital Times says he’s off, but then a more recent story says he’s back on. He’d turned in just 196 signatures, but then 11 more were discovered and turned in. (Zach, any relation?) Democrat Kerry Trask and Republican Tyler Martell are still running, so apparently there will be a Republican primary after all.
The fourth one off the ballot is Matt Bitz, a Democrat running for northern Wisconsin’s 75th Assembly District. The state board voted to remove him after determining that he had not lived in Wisconsin for at least a year before when he would take office in January. Bitz back moved to Rice Lake from New York City in back May, though I’ve heard he’s challenging this with the GAB.
• Finally, two ballot challenges executed with the intend of dumping Democratic candidates from the ballot have failed. First was Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who had an arrangement with the state to list the address of her office rather than her home address. This arrangement had been made to reduce the number of threats and fake bombs that Baldwin received at her home address. The Young Republicans of Dane County attempted to have Baldwin removed from the ballot because of this, but the state kept Baldwin on the ballot.
The second challenged ballot was that of Todd Kolosso, Democratic candidate for 5th CD. According to the Kolosso campaign, operatives from the Sensenbrenner campaign were trying to invalidate enough nomination signatures to make it impossible for Kolosso to be on the ballot, ensuring F-Jim an easy ride. But word came that the GAB dismissed the challenge as i started writing this post.