An Alaska Democratic Party (ADP) spokesman acknowledged Monday that Independent U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Stock, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, will not be allowed to run on the party’s ticket this fall.
The ADP had sued the State of Alaska to allow registered non-partisans and those who had declared any party affiliation to run on the ADP line on Alaska election ballots.
In an affidavit filed in that suit Stock left little doubt what she would do if the ADP’s lawsuit is successful saying “If I am allowed to run as an independent in the Alaska Democratic Party primary in August, I intend to do so.”
Judge Louis James Menendez dismissed the suit on the grounds it was premature until the ADP changed their rules to allow for such move.
At the Alaska Democratic Party Convention held last week in Anchorage the party did exactly that, adding this to the Party’s rules:
“Any Alaska voter who is registered as a Democrat, Undeclared, or Non-Partisan may file for office and appear on the Democratic Party’s Primary Ballot. Undeclared and Non Partisan candidates may be listed using the category in which they are registered (U or N), or they may be listed as “Independent” or “Non Affiliated”. The Democrat or non affiliated candidate receiving the most votes in the Democratic Primary will advance to the General Election ballot as the party’s nominee, where he/she will be listed with the same identifier used in the Primary.”
With the rule change now officially, made the ADP can continue with their lawsuit, but time is now a factor, and maybe an insurmountable one for Stock.
The state of Alaska’s deadline for candidates to file for office is June 1st. If the ADP doesn’t get a ruling in their favor by then, Stock would not be allowed to file to appear on the ADP primary ballot.
The ADP has now resigned itself to the fact that it is just too slim a time frame. ADP spokesman Jake Hamburg reached by text message yesterday said, “It’s apparent that the lawsuit won’t get resolved before June 1.” Hamburg continued, “It’s clear that a candidate registered as an undeclared or non-partisan will not be able to run on the Democratic primary ballot.”
This is a significant strategic development in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race.
If Stock had been able to get on the Democratic Party’s slot on the ballot, she could have garnered all of the benefits of being the Party’s nominee while playing up her independent status to voters.
She also would have blocked any candidate from appearing as a Democrat on the general election ballot, a major strategic asset to a candidate running against an incumbent Republican.
As it stands now, Stock will have to compete with a listed Democrat as well as Alaska Libertarian Party candidate Cean Stevens, in addition to Murkowski in the general election.
Rather than trying to consolidate all support of those not voting for Murkowski behind one candidate, as Stock and Alaska Democrats were trying to do, they will likely split those votes.
It is a major, possibly fatal, strategic setback for what was already a long-shot independent candidate.
Stock will now have to file as an independent candidate and get the required 2,854 signatures on a petition to appear on the general election ballot. Her campaign was active in asking for those names during the ADP convention.
Regardless of Stock’s ballot status, Alaska Republican Party Vice-Chairman Rick Whitbeck said in a phone interview today his party knows what Stock represents: “Regardless of whether she is on the Democrat ballot or not, a Democrat is a Democrat. They fully embrace her and have fully assimilated her into their party. We’ll see her in November.”
As for the long-term prospects of facing similar hybrid candidacies in the future if the ADP’s efforts are successful, Whitbeck said it’s not something Republicans are concerning themselves with: “I don’t think the Republican Party should be worried about whatever shenanigans the Democratic Party wants to play. If they can’t find a real candidate to step up, and they have to play games with the voters, let’em play games with the voters.” He continued “We are going to go through the process of letting our primary voters elect the best Republican for that situation and then we are going to back that Republican in the general (election).”