Georgia Dems: Defending Their Right To Name “Whoever They Want To The Ballot”

The Democratic Party of Georgia is trying to raise funds for the legal fight against the challenge to the placement of President Barack Obama’s name on the ballot here in Georgia.

From WGST:

Party Vice Chair Nikema Williams says the Democratic Party has to defend against five lawsuits filed by Republicans.

“They’re violating Democrats’ first amendment rights to name whoever they want to the ballot,” Williams tells WGST.

The efforts to remove Obama’s name are based on the challengers’ view that the president is not a natural born citizen of the U.S.

1st amendment rights?  Hmm…I figured you had to qualify as a candidate by the laws of that state.  If it’s a free speech issue, then maybe the Democrats should consider putting Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, or Basil Marceaux.com as well.  At least that would give Democrats in Georgia a choice and maybe a laugh or two.

54 comments

  1. John Konop says:

    …..The efforts to remove Obama’s name are based on the challengers’ view that the president is not a natural born citizen of the U.S….

    You cannot be serious? This is flat out wrong on many levels. This will be a major black-eye for the GOP. Obama should thank the people behind this, because this will be an issue that will unite their base, which is now filled with apathy.

    • Ken says:

      Blurring of issues that favor the GOP – the economy, foreign relations, the mouldering smell of resurgent blame-ourselves Carterism – with the birthers is good for Obama.

      I can think of nothing good that will come of this.

  2. seekingtounderstand says:

    Filled with apathy are folks who voted republican last………… as a person who helps get out the vote, I believe we have a third party running in GA, its called “they all stink and it doesn’t matter”.
    So as a grass roots worker its becoming Clear that Obama will win due to voter low turnout….
    People have seen the republicans graft and harm them in Georgia for too long. Insiders always win and the republicans have proved that true.
    Apathy wins in 2012. No reason to vote, no one to believe in.

    • TheEiger says:

      Are you saying Obama wins Georgia next November? I will gladly take that bet because that is absolutely ridiculous. You can say it will be close or you may make Republicans spend money to win Georgia, but to say that Obama will win a state that has a Republican Governor, House, Senate and a huge Tea Party presents make you sound like you need a ride straight to the mental hospital.

      I can also tell you that conservative voters will not be staying at home this election. Just because we are fighting over a nominee right now doesn’t mean we will stay at home and give Obama another 4 years if our person is nominated.

        • TheEiger says:

          Now that is worth debating. I think both Romney and Newt can beat Obama, but it is going to be an up hill battle. In December of 79, Reagan was polling 25 points behind Carter. That election turned out to be a slaughter. Right now, depending on which poll you look at, both Romney and Newt are both 3 to 7 points behind Obama. That isn’t a safe place for Obama. The troubling part of these polls is that Obama can’t get the 50 percent plus one he needs to actually win reelection. He is ahead, but not where he needs to be.

          Time will tell, but if the Republican nominee can put Pennsylvania in play or at least make the Dems spend a lot of their money there that would be wonderful. Ultimately, Republicans have to win Ohio, NC, Virginia, and FL. Right now the polls are promising and with the unemployment rate in these states at or above the national average it looks good as long as we don’t nominate a nut case.

            • TheEiger says:

              I honestly think Republicans can win Pennsylvania, but a state like Colorado which flip flops back and forth quite a bit could do it for us or even Indiana.

          • I don’t think the 1979 comparisons have much validity at this point. For one thing, the parties are way more defined – in 1976 it wasn’t even a settled issue who the more conservative candidate was. And the media atmosphere surrounding this stuff is about 10x the level it was back then as well. I don’t recall from 1997 to about 1999 hearing much at all about who the next President would be. Because of the nature of who Obama is there is a big segment of the media that has talked about it non-stop since basically January 21, 2009.

            Best as I can tell, the oft-cited “24 point Carter lead” is actually a Gallup poll from 1978 showing him up 57-35. I wasn’t around then, but I’m pretty sure the Presidential calendar in 1978 wasn’t anywhere near as accelerated as it is in 2012 — for one thing the leading candidate of a major party is only at 35? That would never happen now.

            Most polling shows that this already underway campaign is pretty much dead even, I believe today’s Gallup poll shows Obama leading Romney 50-48. I’d give Obama even odds based on all we know – this election (esp if Romney is the nominee) reminds me a lot of 2004. And if the economy is showing any serious signs of upswing or momentum, it’s going to be tough for any Republican.

  3. John Konop says:

    I have a legal question:

    How many people would support the right of a state to eliminate a presidential candidate, from their ballet, for this reason, with the current lack of evidence in this situation? Would you support the federal government stepping in?

    WHY OR WHY NOT?

    • Cobb Needs a Front Page Poster says:

      That does not sound like a legal question, but a public policy question. Legally, there is no federal right to vote. The federal government can tell the states they can not exclude certain people, but, outside of that, states are free to run elections on their own.

      Also, remember, at no time does a voter in the state of Georgia EVER directly vote for the POTUS. For the primary, the voter is voting to allocate a delegate. In the general, the voter is voting for a Presidential Elector selected by the Executive Committee of each party.

    • bowersville says:

      and ignore the filing by the elected Republican representative in hopes that the elected Republican Secretary of State’s administrative procedure hears a case so one sided that the President of the United States is removed from the ballot in a GOP controlled southern state.

  4. Loren says:

    Anyone who knows me, knows that there’s no bigger anti-Birther in the state than me.

    But I disagree with the Democratic Party of Georgia on this, and I believe the Birthers have a statutory *right* to challenge candidates in the primary, even if this particular challenge is frivolous (and thus subject to a Motion for Summary Judgment).

    I do not accept that the state of Georgia is required to print primary ballots with the names of whatever persons the DP submits, and that the Georgia law that allows voters to challenge candidates (like Keith Gross) doesn’t apply here.

    If Nikema Williams is correct, the state Democratic Party could ask to put Bill Clinton on the ballot, and the state would be obliged to do so, even though he’s clearly ineligible. Or that the state GOP could say they want George W. Bush on the ballot again, and the Secretary of State couldn’t do anything about it.

    Georgia law specifically states that all candidates for federal or state office must be eligible for the office sought. OCGA 21-2-5. While the Birthers may be nuts, what the Democratic Party of Georgia is trying to do is to use that nuttiness to drastically narrow the rights of Georgia voters and the powers of the Secretary of State.

    • Cobb Needs a Front Page Poster says:

      Loren, OCGA 21-2-5 only applies to candidates for “public office.” As defined in the code, a candidate for President is not considered a candidate for public office.

      Also, just because a case is decided by summary judgment does not mean it was frivolous.

      • Loren says:

        First sentence of the statute:

        “Every candidate for federal and state office who is certified by the state executive committee of a political party or who files a notice of candidacy shall meet the constitutional and statutory qualifications for holding the office being sought.”

        Second sentence:

        “The Secretary of State upon his or her own motion may challenge the qualifications of any candidate at any time prior to the election of such candidate.”

        I’ve also read the Motion to Dismiss filed by Obama’s attorney. It doesn’t make this “public office” argument.

        • Cobb Needs a Front Page Poster says:

          Yes, but first, the SoS is not challenging the qualifications, 5 individuals are. That would be governed by the next sentence, “Within two weeks after the deadline for qualifying, any elector who is eligible to vote for a candidate may challenge the qualifications of the candidate by filing a written complaint with the Secretary of State giving the reasons why the elector believes the candidate is not qualified to seek and hold the public office for which he or she is offering.”

          Second, the political parties do not certify candidates for the presidential preference primary (PPP), the parties place those candidates on the ballot. See OCGA 21-2-193.

          Third, you are quoting from Article 1 of the election code. PPPs are governed under Article 5.

          Third, frankly I don’t care what the DPG put in their motion, not have I seen it. If I were them, I may have argued it differently. Also, if I were still a State Party Vice-Chairman and one of my party’s candidates for President was being challenged, I would also not be so ignorant to call this a First Amendment issue. This has nothing to do the the First Amendment.

          • Loren says:

            The definition of “public office” is in OCGA 21-2-2. It includes “every federal, state, county, and municipal office to which persons can be elected by a vote of the electors…” and specifically exempts only “the office of soil and water conservation supervisor.” I think it’s a stretch to argue that “President” is not a public office under this definition.

            The parties submit, by letter, the names that they want the Secretary of State to put on the primary ballot, as approved by the state executive committee. The state cannot *add* any names to that list. There’s your certification by a state executive committee.

            I don’t see why it matters that PPPs are governed under Article 5. Non-Presidential primaries are governed under Article 4. And they’re clearly subject to the statute, as evidenced by Keith Gross losing a challenge and being taken off a primary ballot. Plus, OCGA 21-2-15 says “This chapter shall apply to any general or special election in the state to fill any federal, state, county, or municipal office, to any general or special primary to nominate candidates for any such office…”

            • Cobb Needs a Front Page Poster says:

              That’s the key, you never directly vote for president. You vote for people who vote for president. Sorry, with all due respect to HIMYM, you’ve just been lawyered.

              • Loren says:

                You might have that argument for the general election, but this is the primary. You vote for the candidate himself, not for electors. If you choose the Democratic primary ballot, Obama’s name is the only one you’ll see.

                • Cobb Needs a Front Page Poster says:

                  In the PPP, you vote for the allocation of delegates to the _____ Party National Convention for that candidate. For instance, the Republicans allocate delegates by Congressional District. A little less than 1/2 of the delegates are elected in the Congressional District. Let’s say Newt wins 5 of 14 Districts, Romney wins 4 of 14 and Paul wins 3 and Perry wins 2. That means Newt gets 15 delegates, Romney 12, Paul 9 and Perry 6.

                  Assuming Newt also won the most votes, he gets all of the delegates elected at the state for 24 more delegates.

                  The Dems have a slightly different process, but only slightly different.

                  The primaries are essentially a taxpayer supported straw poll by each party. They are not an election. No one wins an office by virtue of winning a primary.

                  I also finally read the DPG’s motion and, with the exception of the 1st Amendment argument, which I understand was used by the GOP in another state (still think it’s a bad argument), I essentially would have argued the same points.

                  If you are a delegate to the Democrat convention, like Phil Berg was, I can see you having standing to challenge, but I still don’t think there exists an ability under Georgia law to do it.

                  All that would need to happen is someone to drop a bill next session changing the definition of “public office” (21-2-2(30)) to state,

                  “‘Public office’ means every federal, state, county, and municipal office to which persons can be elected by a vote, either directly or indirectly through the allocation of delegates or other electors, of the electors under the laws of this state or the respective municipal charters, except that the term shall not include the office of soil and water conservation district supervisor.”

                  • Lo Mein says:

                    It’s a little more complicated than that, at least on the GOP side (and really, who cares about what happens on the Dem side?).

                    To win all three delegates in a particular Congressional District, the candidate has to win over 50% of the vote in that District. If no one wins over 50%, then the first place (plurality) winner gets 2 of the delegates, and the second place winner gets the other 1. So Newt could win 5 Districts, but only get 10 delegates if he doesn’t win over 50% of the vote in those Districts. If Romney came in second in 3 of them, and Paul and Perry came in second in one each, Romney could get 3 delegates, while Paul and Perry get 1 delegate each.

                    In fact, Newt could win 5 Districts and Paul come in second; Romney could win 5 Districts and Paul come in second; and Perry could win 4 Districts and Paul come in second; and Paul would win more total District delegates than any of the other three did.

                    To complicate things even more: Newt could win the most votes statewide, but that wouldn’t mean he’d win all 34 of the delegates (10 at-large, 21 bonus at-large, and 3 Party “super delegates”); any candidate who wins 20% or more would also get delegates allocated to them proportionally, so if it were, say, Newt 35%, Romney 25%, Perry 20%, and Paul 20%, Newt would get 14 RNC delegates (11 at-large plus the 3 super delegates), Romney would get 8, Perry would get 6, and Paul would get 6. Combine that with the results above, and Paul would come out of Georgia with second place in the total delegate count, only 4 behind Newt.

                    Sound complicated? Yup. On purpose, methinks.

                    • Cobb Needs a Front Page Poster says:

                      As it was on you too Lo Mein. The point was the Parties choose how to allocate delegates…not to explain exactly how they do the allocation. I gave an overly-simplistic explanation to make that point, not to explain the process.

                    • Doug Grammer says:

                      Lo,

                      I understand the process very well. See GA GOP rule 7.9. The term you use for “super delegates” refers to the GA GOP Chairman, National Committeeman and National Committeewoman. That’s not quite accurate. That’s for the pledged Party Leader and Elected Official delegates the Dems use.

                      The Georgia Dems have many more delegates with an affirmative action plan, a call for equal number of male and female delegates, and have 14 pledged Party Leader and Elected Official delegates + President Carter.

                      The point I am making is that Georgia GOP voters are smart enough not to vote Ron Paul first or second anywhere in Georgia.

    • Ken says:

      Loren,

      I understand that you don’t support the birthers but are saying that technically they have the right to bring forth the issue.

      My problem is that it could be legally acceptable, but it is definitely bad politics. The GOP candidate carries Georgia anyway, but the moral outrage generated will not stay withing the confines of the state of Georgia. Uninformed voters will see as the GOP thwarting the will of the people and that anger could switch a statistically close state from the GOP column to the Democrat problem next November.

      The issue is a losing issue.

      • Loren says:

        Oh yes, it’s a losing issue. It’s bad politics, and Birtherism is grounded in rumors and lies and misinformation. The reason I said it was ripe for a Motion for Summary Judgment is because Obama’s lawyer could enter a certified copy of his birth certificate, and the court could declare him eligible on that alone. That’s prima facie proof, and Birthers have no credible evidence to the contrary.

        But I still think the state Democratic Party is advancing a bad legal theory in saying that the eligibility of Presidential candidates CAN’T be challenged under Georgia law, period. I’m a little concerned that in disposing of a factually ridiculous challenge in this way, bad law might be created.

        Oh, and just to cement my anti-Birther credentials:
        http://barackryphal.blogspot.com/
        http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2011/mar/09/loren-collins/birther-foe-says-ga-bill-gets-constitution-wrong/

  5. Sean Rollader says:

    Are none of you familiar with war tactics? You make statements about “birther this” and “birther that”, but you just don’t get the strategy here by the Republican side: Cause the other side to raise money and spend it on this activity depletes their financial resources.

    It’s brilliant, actually, and I hope the Democratic Party of Georgia raises all the money they can and spends it on fighting this endeavor. It’ll cost them more money and Demos spending more money now helps the Republican Party later.

    • John Konop says:

      In all due respect, why would want to give your opponent an issue that will really a base and giive them a bunch of free media. also anything that changes the debate away from the economy is a win for Obama. Finally this flys into the face of what must people would agree our country stands for.

            • Three Jack says:

              ‘see what arguments are brought forward.’ really? you haven’t noticed the multiple failed court cases brought forward since before he was elected?

              this is a really dumb idea put forth by a wackjob state rep. to gen up support from other wackjobs no matter the harm it causes to an already damaged gop. who voted for this idiot?

            • bowersville says:

              Nervous? Who’s nervous? You can’t find a single Democrat in the United States that’s nervous over an eligibility challenge. Why they’re dancing in the street. They have a cause handed to them on a silver platter to raise money and an opportunity to paint the GOP as a bunch of wackjobs. Why should the Democrats be nervous about that?

              BTW I went down the isle at the local grocery looking for ingredients for holiday cakes. I called the wife as I had forgotten the list. She said, “oh those things you put in a fruit cake. Pick up a bag or two of mixed birthers.”

  6. Jane says:

    There was a time when the Dem’s restricted who could vote in their primaries, ala Whites only. So they should get off their high horse and fallow the law for a change.

  7. Ken says:

    Yes, a distraction during the most important election year since 1994. That’s exactly what we need. And what will we accomplish? Nothing at all.

    • Harry says:

      What will we accomplish? An exercise of constitutional principle. You can either be in the fight or not, I don’t care. The GOP Establishment better wake up….either defend the constitution and enunciate Republican values or you’re history, and Obama mucks up the country for another four years. Your choice.

      • Ken says:

        No, if we do it right, Obama loses at the ballot box in November. If you think a case can proceed through the courts before the election then you’re mistaken.

        In the meanwhile, birthers generate sympathy, support and votes for the worst president in my lifetime.

        • Harry says:

          This is a case where principle should outweigh politics. What is more important for Republicans: defending the Constitution, or letting Obama win another term? I maintain the former. Anyway, here’s my prediction: Obama wins another term. It will take at least our more years for the Republicans to overcome their internal divide and unite. There will be substantial numbers (not me) who will sit out this election.

          1. Newt Gingrich is his own worst enemy. That’s all you need to know about Gingrich. He won’t get the nomination.

          2. Ron Paul won’t be nominated, and most of his substantial numbers of supporters will sit out the election. No one in the GOP Establishment has made the slightest effort to come to terms with them.

          3. Mitt Romney will likely get the nomination, and then they’ll go after him. His achilles heel are his tax returns, which he unlike every other candidate since Watergate, has not released. The reason is that virtually all his income is taxable at capital gains rates. His main source of income, venture company Bain Capital, is legally utilizing the tax laws to defer income and convert ordinary income to capital gains rates. If you don’t think the Democrats will crucify him with this, you’re kidding yourself.

          4. The only real chance the GOP has is a brokered convention resulting in a dark horse candidate, which is highly unlikely.

          • Ken says:

            Silly me! I believe that Republicans of all stripes love their country enough to support any opponent of Obama.

            We’ll see.

            • Harry says:

              Depends on how you define Republican. Do you consider Ron Paul supporters to be full-blood Republicans? Do you consider GOP-leaning traditionalist independents to be Republicans? Those are the votes needed in order to win. Mitt Romney is virtually assured to be the nominee and I personally have no trouble with him, but do you see the above-mentioned marginalized groups voting for Romney? I don’t think he can pull them.

              In 2012 I’d rather focus on principles over politics. Let us Birthers be Birthers.

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