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March 3, 2010 8:39 PM   Subscribe

Is there any mechanism whereby a state political party can remove the certified winner of a primary election from their ticket?

This is an idle question, which I've sometimes thought about, but recent events prompt me to pose it here.

A woman named Kesha Rogers won the Democratic primary in Texas's 22nd congressional district last night. She's a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, a global warming denialist and she believes Obama should be impeached. In other words, she's not representative of the Democratic Party on pretty much any issue. I get the impression she won only because nobody expects the Republican incumbent, Pete Olson, to be vulnerable in the fall, and so no big name ran against her.

Is there any way the Texas Democratic Party could have her, a presumably valid candidate who is the certified winner of the Democratic primary, kicked off the ticket? I can think of reasons why a state party shouldn't have this power, but this case (i.e. a candidate whose views in no way align with the party's and could even be seen as damaging to the party's credibility) seems to exemplify a reason why a party should be able to police its slate.

Is there a precedent, in Texas or elsewhere, for such an action?
posted by Bromius to Law & Government (10 answers total)
Mod note: link removed - please don't inclue gratuitous links/photos unless they're necessary to your question
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:49 PM on March 3, 2010

Best answer: I can find instances where a party has ruled an election invalid (in TN) for semi-okay semi-bogus reasons, but if she clearly won the primary they very probably have to live with her.

It happens. Another time in TN, the Republicans didn't field a real candidate for a House seat in/near Memphis, so James Hart, and actual no-kidding Nazi eugenicist whose platform included (IIRC) sterilizing the "inferior" races, threw his name in and automatically won the primary.

What usually happens in situations like this is the weirdo remains on the ballot with the party label, but the party organization puts out the word (or even ads) not to vote for the person because they are cuh-ray-zee. Happened in the TN race. IIRC, when David Duke won a Republican primary in LA, Reagan and other prominent Republicans rushed to ask people not to vote for the bozo.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:01 PM on March 3, 2010

Best answer: The candidate that was running on impeaching Obama won the primary? Got to love the fightin' 22! I believe the Texas Dem party has gone on record as saying they're not going to give her one cent to run in the general so all her money will have to come from LaRouchites. If there was a viable candidate for the district, they would have supported him or her early on and this wouldn't happen. Clearly, the TX Dems thought that district was a lost cause.

At least you got to vote for someone. When I was a living in the ATX, our gerrymandered district only had a write-in candidate in the general. And with his hard to spell name and the ipod-like voting wheel where you had to spell out his name like you got a high score on Tempest. Dude didn't have a chance.
posted by birdherder at 9:04 PM on March 3, 2010

This happened in New Jersey in 2002 with Senator Robert Torricelli, who pulled out of his re-election race weeks before the election. The only link I could find was Fox News, unfortunately.

Chances are you'd have to read the Texas Democratic Party's by-laws to get an idea. Parties can choose candidates through whatever system they please, but they generally need to be consistent.
posted by j1950 at 9:22 PM on March 3, 2010

This has happened in Illinois - just last month, in fact, with Lt. Governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen. He had a rather unsavory history, but it was barely reported since no one in the media thought he had any chance to win! He did end up stepping down.

In 1986, two LaRouchites won Democratic primary elections for Lt. Governor and Secretary of State. They did not step down - but the Democratic gubernatorial nominee did leave the Democratic ticket and run on a third party ticket that year.

More information about those two cases here.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:31 PM on March 3, 2010

Best answer: As it happens, when we learned about Kesha Rogers last night, I checked out the Texas Democratic Party rules to see if anything could be done. I couldn't find anything in there about removing candidates or kicking people out of the party, though. However, a reporter caught up with a TDP spokesperson:
"La Rouche members are not Democrats. I guarantee her campaign will not receive a single dollar from anyone on our staff," Kirsten Gray, spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party, told Hair Balls.
posted by DavidNYC at 10:04 PM on March 3, 2010

Way complicated. Start with state election law. Look for Texas State Code, the title on election law. Get a pad and paper. Look for the "definitions" section for each subtitle that applies. Scan the "definitions" section just to get an idea what words are specially defined. Then just browse the tree until you see the primaries section. Any thing about certification of candidates. Find out whether a state law rule applies or they leave it to party bylaws. If party bylaws, read those. They may not even be online.

Then, if deadlines allow, run a candidate under a new party--the healthcare reform party or some such. The message needs to get out, even if the GOP is a lock. All areas need to be contested.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:04 PM on March 3, 2010

This situation has come up before. Well, not this exact situation, but one where the party did not want the primary winner on the ballot.

The result? Tom DeLay had to voluntarily withdraw in entirety while the Republican replacement had to make do as a write-in candidate. There was also a movement to declare him ineligible, but that failed. The precedent was for the Republican Party, but at the same time, the details of the case suggest it was Texas state law, not individual party preference.

I'm going to say that in this case, it's pretty unlikely. The Democratic Party can't do anything unless the candidate wants to. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that's not going to happen here.
posted by Saydur at 1:41 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

You should chastise that local Democratic party for not fielding a candidate at all. They should have found a credible candidate. Now they should spend money advertising the fact that the candidate does not represent the Democratic party.
posted by theora55 at 7:24 AM on March 4, 2010

Yeah, the Texas Democratic Party should totally take money away from credible candidates that might win, and waste them in districts where they obviously CAN'T win. They should hobble credible candidates chances by making them run in districts where they can't win. Wasting money in a state where Democratic funding can be hard to come by sounds like a solid decision.

I voted for Libertarians for a nice chunk of my voting history because the TDP couldn't find or fund candidates to get on the ballot. The fact that we have wingnut unlikable candidates is a vast improvement over a decade ago.
posted by politikitty at 10:17 AM on March 4, 2010

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