The Nebraska Republican Party filed a complaint yesterday challenging the candidacy of Bob Kerrey for U.S. Senate. We read in the MSM that they are contesting Secretary of State John Gale’s ruling that Kerrey can be on the ballot, but we have seen little detail on the actual complaint. So let’s dive in!
First off, the complaint is the NEGOP against John Gale. That is because it is the party’s responsibility — and not a candidate’s or a citizen’s — to file such an objection. And it is not against Kerrey, but against Gale and his ruling.
This is filed in Lancaster County District Court. We would be curious to know if it could have been filed in Douglas or any other Nebraska County, but we will bypass that for now. But know that the court can make a difference, obviously, because of which judge gets it.
In this case, this has fallen into the lap of District Court Judge Steven Burns. We asked around to some legal-beagle friends familiar with that court and those judges, and the consensus is… Burns is the worst possible judge for the GOP in this matter.
Why? Well, for starters, Burns was appointed by one Governor E. Benjamin Nelson. And he was a VERY active Democrat before Nelson appointed him. We could even get into the argument that many lawyers who practice there find him to be a very liberal, activist judge, and that he consistently receives the worst evaluation through the state bar association.
But other than that, great place for the case to land.
So is that the end, if Judge Burns slams the book on it? Nope. It would likely get appealed to the Court of Appeals, or just up to the Nebraska Supreme Court — whichever way Judge Burns rules — and there it would be somewhat of a crap shoot. Though some would argue that with the Nebraska Supreme Court’s makeup being 6 to 1 Ben Nelson appointees, the decision may be already made. Oh, and this all could get removed to Federal Court as well.
Fun stuff, yeah?
How about the complaint itself?
Well, it mainly focuses around what IS the question as far as what determines how Kerrey can be on the ballot. Yes the U.S. Constitution says that a Senator must just be a resident of the state. But states also have the right to set certain factors to determine who can be on the ballot. They can set a deadline for filing. They can set different standards for office holders and non-office holders — an advantage Kerrey certainly took advantage of.
And the Nebraska GOP argues that the state can set a standard that says a candidate must meet certain requirements that protect the integrity and reliability of the electoral process itself.
If a candidate took part in a fraud or a crime in connection with the filing forms, the state can restrict said candidate’s name from the primary ballot to protect the integrity of the process.
So in the summary of his decision, Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale stated that Bob Kerrey exhibited a pattern of false statements on his voter registration forms and his candidate filing forms. By doing this Kerrey committed fraud, argues the NEGOP. And the Nebraska statutes state that a person who commits fraud in connection with his candidate filing must be kept off the ballot.
Got all that?
Now we have no idea how the courts will come down on all of this, but we have a feeling the crux of it all will be whether Kerrey’s actions were fraud, and how much weight Gale’s decision on this must receive.
We will still bet that Kerrey ends up on the ballot, but this makes it an interesting matter in the long run. Kerrey played fast and loose with the rules to get his name on the ballot — all starting with his initial decision NOT to run. (Talking Points Memo asks today how Kerrey could have had such a clumsy roll out of his campaign.) And it behooves the state party to make this court challenge. To sit on their heels would have been political malpractice.
But does a Nebraskan have these problems when running for Senate? That is something to think about, and you can bet will be focused on as the court case and any campaign continues.
Oh, and a little bird pointed us to the service of process on the brief filed by the NEGOP: It went to BOTH Kerrey’s sister’s house, and to Jay Noddle’s guest house addresses. (Chuckle.)
If they really wanted to make a point, they should have sent it to Kerrey’s actual home in Greenwich Village, New York City as well.
The Lincoln Journal Star has a story about the shakeup of the party heads at both the state Republican and Democrat parties.
We do not have much to add about the NEGOP, except that Mark Fahleson would make a great National Committeeman and we think Tim O’Dell would/could be a great Chairman. No idea at this point who else may be interested.
On the Dem side, we saw that former Gubernatorial candidate Mike Meister is making a gung-ho run for Democrat Chairman — already putting together a Facebook page to gather support. Meister is still holding on to his “Music Man” image with the seer-sucker suit and the straw boater.
Though we still always get a little snort at the line that Meister “puts the Goober in Gubernatorial“.
But Meister is up against Omahan Joe Higgins, who has already received the support of outgoing Chair Vic Covalt. Ooooooh!
We wonder who former Chair Steve Achelpohl will endorse.
And we wonder if Bob Kerrey will weigh in!
Of course, Kerrey might have to ask New York Governor Cuomo for his input first.