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Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Our chapter on political parties discusses the "spoiler effect" (pp. 319-320), by which third-party candidates may siphon votes from major-party candidates. Sometimes, major-party operatives deliberately encourage third-party candidates so as to damage their rivals.

The New York Times reports on a case in Arizona:

Mr. Pearcy and other drifters and homeless people were recruited onto the Green Party ballot by a Republican political operative who freely admits that their candidacies may siphon some support from the Democrats. Arizona’s Democratic Party has filed a formal complaint with local, state and federal prosecutors in an effort to have the candidates removed from the ballot, and the Green Party has urged its supporters to steer clear of the rogue candidates.

“These are people who are not serious and who were recruited as part of a cynical manipulation of the process,” said Paul Eckstein, a lawyer representing the Democrats. “They don’t know Green from red.”

But Steve May, the Republican operative who signed up some of the candidates along Mill Avenue, a bohemian commercial strip next to Arizona State University, insists that a real political movement has been stirred up that has nothing to do with subterfuge.

“Did I recruit candidates? Yes,” said Mr. May, who is himself a candidate for the State Legislature, on the Republican ticket. “Are they fake candidates? No way.”

To make his point, Mr. May went by Starbucks, the gathering spot of the Mill Rats, as the frequenters of Mill Avenue are known.

“Are you fake, Benjamin?” he yelled out to Mr. Pearcy, who cried out “No,” with an expletive attached.

The Detroit News reports on a case in Michigan:

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled today the controversial Tea Party group -- criticized as a Democratic ploy to siphon votes away from Republicans -- will not be on the November ballot.

"We are definitely pleased that the scam that was being perpetrated has been stopped," said John Pirich, an attorney for tea party groups around the state. "We also hope that the investigation into this activity proceeds as expeditiously as possible."


The ruling comes a day after The Detroit News reported links between Democrats and The Tea Party group with 23 candidates that included the former stepmother of the former leader of the Oakland County Democratic Party being recruited to run as well as another candidate who had placed last in a 2008 Democratic primary.

The scandal over The Tea Party group forced the resignation of Mike McGuinness, the former Oakland County Democratic chairman, and the firing of Jason Bauer, an organizer for the county Democrats who has been accused of notarizing many of the nominations.