Arizona’s Green Party is asking a judge to kick half of its own candidates off the ballot in the upcoming November elections. Why would a party do such a thing? Because, as The Arizona Republic and then The New York Times have reported, many of the 11 contested Green candidates have actually been recruited by Republicans, including Steve May, who is seeking a seat in the House of Representatives. May has argued in several interviews, including with NPR and the Times, that the candidates are legitimate and genuinely wish to serve.
The Arizona Democratic Party and the Green Party say Republicans are just trying to draw votes away from Democrats (left-leaning voters are more likely to vote Green), as they did in 2008, this time with candidates who include the roommate of a Republican legislator’s daughter, a tarot-card reader, and several drifters who hang out on Mill Avenue in Phoenix.
But for all the sound and fury, will the Green Party stand a chance in the courts? Some, such as Salon writer Alex Pareene, argue that the party needs to find its own solution to the problem, perhaps through a runoff vote of its own candidates. “Look, it sucks that because of our voting system, a vote for a Green candidate is 'effectively' a vote for a Republican. But lots of very smart people have been working for many years on clever solutions to this very problem, and none of the answers they have come up with involve using the courts to deny a tarot card reader his right to run for state treasurer because you don't like the way he got on the ballot,” he wrote.
Bill Scheel, who is running the campaign of Andrei Cherny for state treasurer (Cherny will now be competing with the tarot-card reader), says of the last time Green Party candidates were put up by Republicans, in 2008, “It cost the Dems one legislative seat, maybe more.” That was the first time that Green candidates had been called into question, but now, says Scheel, the phenomenon has mushroomed. “It’s moved from an isolated district strategy to a statewide one,” he says.
Joe Yuhas, a partner in the Riester political-consulting firm, spent years in elected office in New Jersey in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s before moving to Arizona. He says that when it comes to political shenanigans in Arizona, “the boldness is staggering.” His firm, he says, will soon launch a Web site to detail the abuses, and adds, “For a guy who cut his teeth in New Jersey politics and thought he'd seen it all, I’m astounded. The depth and breadth of it makes New Jersey races look like student-council elections.”