In Defense of Jimmy McMillan
DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL (4/21/2000):EMBARRASSED AFTER GETTING caught trying to run a rigged presidential primary, New York's Republican leaders have suddenly become converts to the cause of ballot reform. Better late than never - but they still are falling short of a fully democratic process….While they're at it, they also should reform the ballot-access rules for all the other races in the state. Aside from the presidential primary, New York's ballot rules, designed to help those favored by party bosses, are among the most unfair in the nation.
DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL (7/2/03): Clearly, the one-party system is failing New York. Just getting on the ballot is an almost insurmountable task - tougher than anywhere else in the nation. Election lawyers stand at the ready, waiting to block insurgents. Half the ballot-access challenges in the U.S. take place in the Empire State. This is not something to be proud of.
McMillan's catch phrase and all-purpose answer to everything - "The rent is too damn high" - went viral and earned him a parody on "Saturday Night Live."
There's little doubt McMillan will draw votes next Tuesday, perhaps more than the 50,000 needed to certify him as a political party with an official ballot line.
That's when the laughing would stop - not least because under the state Constitution, McMillan's name should not be on the ballot at all.
The most recent court rulings make clear that the ballot is open only to gubernatorial candidates who are running in tandem with a lieutenant governor. Less than two weeks ago, a unanimous New York appellate court threw off the ballot a Tea Party contender who failed to put a candidate for lieutenant governor before the voters.
Said the court:
"Pursuant to New York Constitution ... the governor and lieutenant governor 'shall be chosen jointly' every fourth year, 'by the casting each voter of a single vote applicable to both offices.'"
McMillan is the only remaining gubernatorial candidate who does not have a running mate. It's McMillan and nobody. He is not entitled to gain a single vote or to draw votes away from fully legitimate contenders.
No, he is not going to win the executive mansion. But he is going to distort the election and possibly gain the standing to distort elections to come by virtue of votes wrongly cast.
The state Board of Elections was wrong to put him on the ballot in the first place, and doubly wrong to let him stay on the ballot after the court tossed Tea Partyer Steve Cohn for the same reason.
The board says the court acted against Cohn based on a challenge by Republican Carl Paladino. No one challenged McMillan, so he gets to stay. That's insanity. The law for one candidate must be the law for all.
McMillan should be dumped and paper ballots should be reprinted. Oops! The board says there's no time under the new electronic system. That excuse is not good enough, as a federal judge ruled yesterday in ordering the board - on grounds of yet another, different screwup - to reprint 14 million ballots. Get it done.
For year it has been screaming against petition challenges and for fairer ballot access.
Except when it finds a candidate it really dislikes.
When The News really dislikes a candidate, it not only supports challenging that candidate and taking away his ballot access, but also engaging in extraordinary and extra-legal efforts to do so.
How extraordinary and extra-legal?
Well normally, the City and State Boards of Elections, with rare and limited exceptions, presume all petitions to be valid. While all nominating petition are subject to being challenged, if those challenges don’t emerge within the legally specified time periods, then the candidates on those petitions get on the ballot, even, as is often the case with fringe candidates from non-ballot status parties, their petitions are great (or more likely tiny) steaming piles of fraud.As he did this year, four years ago McMillan filed gubernatorial petitions which did not meet the legal mandate of containing a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. This was so unusual that I noted it at the time, even though I’d never heard of McMillan before.
But no one cared, so McMillan made the ballot.
It was only when McMillan started running joint petitions in Democratic primaries with other candidates who were in races which other people cared about that the political world started to take note of the quality of his petitions.
Last year, Eugene Myrick, a naïve young man running for Brooklyn Borough President, had a few friends and supporters gather some of his petition signatures themselves. But the lion’s share were gathered by McMillan.
Myrick apparently filed 4,477 sheets of signatures in 20 volumes, but only 1,201 sheets had any signatures on them at all. The rest were page after page of blank sheets. The pattern was that the first and last few sheets of a volume had signatures, with hundreds of blank pages in between; all casing, with no sausage inside, with the intent of fooling the potential consumer. The subscribing witness on all the blank pages was Jimmy McMillan.
This year, US Senate candidate Randy Credico had a similar tale to tell. Further, the few pages on the Credico/McMillan petitions which had signatures on them all appeared to be in the same handwriting.McMillan explains his method of collecting petitions thusly:
CITY HALL NEWS: So those are the people who help you collect petition signatures?
JIMMY: I sign all those petitions. There was only one man signing all those petitions and you are talking to him.
CH: You collected all 15,000 signatures?
JM: My signature is on very petition...
Who would have thought he actually meant this literally?
The reason Steve Cohn (NOT the Brooklyn Steve Cohn) is no longer on the ballot as the Tea Party candidate is that someone (Carl Paladino) did not want a “Tea Party” candidate on the ballot. The reason McMillan (and Credico) did not make the primary ballot is because Andrew Cuomo (and Chuck Schumer) did not want a primary.
The reason why McMillan made the general election ballot, with what is almost surely the same pile of fraud and blank pages, is that no one cared.
But that’s fair.
Those who favor greater ballot access certainly should not want the presumption of a petition’s validity questioned by the government, when no other candidate is challenging that presumption. The would not expand the ballot access The News usually claims to advocate; it would contract it severely, mostly at the cost of candidates from minor parties making the ballot.
Is The News advocating that the Boards of Election abandon its live and let live position, and start examining the petitions of each and every candidate to ensure they are valid?
Most petitions are not the subject of specific objections requiring a line by line review. To expand the supervisory role of Boards of Elections to examine unchallenged petitions would require massive increases of personnel to perform a non-essential function no one purports to desire.
This from a newspaper which has consistently opposed budget increases to allow the City’s Board of Elections to perform its necessary and essential functions.
The News says “The law for one candidate must be the law for all,” But actually, it advocates exactly the opposite. The News wants a level of scrutiny for McMillan that is imposed upon no one else. .
Even more extraordinarily, The News now asks that “McMillan…be dumped and paper ballots should be reprinted.” The News call the State Board’s treatment of McMillan a “screwup,” when it was nothing of the sort.
The State Board of Elections was following its mandate. Now, the News is asking the State Board, without, a legal complaint before it, to undertake a massive and costly effort which is entirely without a legal justification.
Now, I yield to no one in my disdain for Jimmy McMillan. I’ve been doing it longer and harsher than anyone else in NYC., but I have to wonder why the News would abandon its every principle to see McMillan removed from the ballot.Before the debate, the Daily News never apparently even heard of McMillan. For all their purported outrage about his supposedly invalid candidacy, they apparently have yet to act upon my suggestion and send someone up to the State Board of Elections in Albany to examine the petitions McMillan submitted.
What could it be that has raised all this ire?I do not think it is concern about McMillan’s anti-Semitism. While Celeste Katz has mentioned it on her blog, neither this morning’s editorial, nor any story in the printed edition of The News has mentioned that McMillan blames the Reform and Conservative branches of Judaism for 9/11.
I can think of only one explanation.
It must be that The Daily News does not think The Rent Is Too Damn High.
Post new comment