Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Petition flaws; a campaign fatal error

RUTHERFORD: Cleaning up mistakes?
Remember Alice Palmer?

I don't know if Republican gubernatorial hopeful Dan Rutherford does. But his actions of late indicate he doesn't want to suffer her same political fate.

FOR RUTHERFORD IS the candidate who realized his nominating petitions, the documents that are meant to officially get himself a spot on the GOP primary ballot come March, were flawed enough that he could have been kicked off.

His campaign could have died before ever taking place – and Republican-leaning voters would have had to pick between the trio of William Brady, Kirk Dillard and Bruce Rauner.

The state treasurer who served in the Legislature for nearly two decades representing the Pontiac area would not have been a presence on the ballot.

Now his circumstances are far different from those of Palmer – the one-time state legislator from the South Side who would up getting tripped up (and kicked off the ballot) when she tried seeking re-election in the 1996 election cycle.

PALMER’S PROBLEMS AROSE when she got dreams of running for Congress. She wanted a promotion. But it became apparent to her during the campaign cycle that her chances of actually winning were nil.

So just before the deadline for filing nominating petitions, she changed her mind and went for re-election. Which required a whole new set of petitions – the others had people supporting her for Congress, NOT the state Senate.

But because they were put together on the rush to meet a deadline, they were sloppy. There were flaws. Enough flaws that she didn’t have enough valid signatures of support.

PALMER: Historic gaffe
Now had there been politeness and courtesy, no one would have brought up these flaws. If no one challenges the petitions, they automatically become legitimate – regardless of the flaws.

BUT THEY WERE challenged, the flaws were found, and Palmer got kicked off the ballot. She never again held elective office. That is how a community activist named Barack Obama began the 12-year trek that wound up at the White House.

It seems Rutherford’s own petitions had flaws – ones even his most ardent backers acknowledged. We just know that the Republican opposition would have ganged up on him to get a credible candidate knocked off the ballot.

Anything to make their own campaign effort easier.
OBAMA: Took advantage of a fluke?

Which is why the Rutherford campaign these days, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, is taking it upon themselves to circulate all-new nominating petitions – which did not include a notarized statement specifying when the petitions had actually been circulated.

THAT’S EXACTLY THE kind of technicality that election law attorneys love to exploit to knock around the opposition.

For Rutherford’s sake, let’s hope that none of his people are feeling particularly rushed. Because that could lead to further errors of sloppiness that could still harm him.

My guess is that Rutherford’s petitions (in whatever form they get submitted to the Illinois State Board of Elections) are going to be scrutinized to the “n’th” degree by people looking for anything they can try to claim is a flaw.

The outcome, if a flaw is found, can be worth the legal battles and hurt feelings – although I can’t say I see any of the GOP gubernatorial dreamers as anyone with potential to become president come 2028.

I DOUBT THAT history will repeat itself in quite that way.

Although it does seem odd that a petition flaw would occur this time, since there were also questions about the nominating petitions that put Mitt Romney on the ballots in Illinois for U.S. president.

ROMNEY: Didn't learn from mistake?
The only reason there weren’t serious challenges to that (which would have been embarrassing to the Romney campaign if it couldn’t get on all 50 states’ ballots) was because of potential for flaws in the petitions of opponent Rick Santorum.

Both sides ultimately decided to “play nice” and not pursue the issue. That won’t happen again if anybody thinks Rutherford is vulnerable to a technicality that could undo him before the voters get a chance to.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It strikes me as being quite pathetic that the people most willing to denounce Barack Obama for using flawed petitions to eliminate his opposition are the same ones who would eagerly have pounced on Dan Rutherford petition flaws to undo his campaign if it would gain them an ideological ally.

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