Pat Buchanan Left Off the Michigan Ballot

Written: 19 September, 2000

I heard on the radio this morning an ad by Pat Buchanan where he was warning listeners that he has been left off the Michigan election ballot this year. I looked up some articles about this on the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press' websites, and pieced together the following (which has occured over the past couple weeks) from their online articles -- links to which are provided as footnotes in the body of the text below. Anything not in quotes is in my own words.

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Michigan's Secretary of State, Candice Miller, decides which candidates' names appear on the Michigan ballot in the Presidential election. Recently, she decided that the Reform Party would not appear on the ballot. The Reform Party has split with one faction claiming that Pat Buchanan is their candidate, and another faction claiming John Hagelin is the Reform Party candidate. So, the newspapers have reported Miller's decision and its aftermath in the following way: "The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday against allowing either of the two Reform Party presidential nominees on the state's Nov. 7 ballot, prompting Pat Buchanan's attorneys to file a federal lawsuit." (1)

However, Hagelin's name apparently will appear on the ballot, albeit not as the Reform Party candidate. "Russ Verney, a leader of the Hagelin faction, said Hagelin supporters were satisfied with Miller's decision last month to prohibit either candidate from appearing on the ballot when she could not determine the official state party chairman. Hagelin will appear on the Michigan ballot as the Natural Law Party nominee whatever the result of [Buchanan]'s appeal, Verney said in a telephone call from Dallas." (2)

Incidentally, "Secretary of State Candice Miller co-chairs the Michigan campaign of Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush. [....] Thereís bad blood between Miller, who came to her job via Macomb County politics, and those Macomb Republicans who supported Buchanan in 1996 and now back his Reform Party candidacy. They blocked Millerís bid to be a Macomb County delegate to the 1996 national convention." (3)

On Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld Miller's decision to leave Buchanan off the ballot. It was a 5 to 2 decision, with "Republican Justices Elizabeth Weaver, Stephen Markman, Clifford Taylor, Maura Corrigan and Robert Young" upholding Miller's decision, and "Democratic Justices Michael Cavanagh and Marilyn Kelly dissented, arguing that the secretary of state has a duty to accept the certification of one of the nominees." (4) In other words, Republican justices sides with Bush's co-chair while Democratic justices favored having Pat's name on the ballot. Was this really "justice" -- or just politics?

And what did the "other" Reform Party candidate, John Hagelin, think of the court's decision, keeping his name off the ballot as Reform Party candidate? "Bob Roth, a spokesman for the Hagelin campaign, said the campaign is happy with the court's decision. Hagelin appears on the Michigan ballot as the Natural Law Party presidential candidate." (4) This has worked out quite nicely for Hagelin. His name gets on the ballot and Buchanan, his rival, is kept off.

Immediately after the decision on Friday, "Buchanan attorney Philip Vestevich filed a federal lawsuit appealing the Supreme Court's decision. It is scheduled for a hearing at 8 a.m. Monday in U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gadola's courtroom in Flint. [...] Meanwhile, the secretary of state's office has certified the November ballot and a few county clerks are already printing ballots, said secretary of state spokeswoman Elizabeth Boyd. Adding Buchanan's to the ballot name would force county clerks to reprint ballots." (4) Seems they were pretty confident that Pat's appeal would fail, eh?

Who is U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gadola? "Gadola is a conservative Republican, 1984 Michigan state chairman of the Reagan-Bush reelection campaign." (5) Gadola's name is included among a list of justices associated with "the ultra-conservative Federalist Society." Also on the list are Elizabeth Weaver, Stephen Markman, Clifford Taylor, Maura Corrigan and Robert Young. Do those names look familiar? Those were the 5 "Federalist Republicans on the seven-member Michigan Supreme Court" that ruled against Buchanan! (6)

On Monday, Gadola ruled on the case, upholding the decision of the Michigan Supreme Court (his 5 fellow Federalist Republicans) and Secretary of State Miller (Bush's Michigan co-chair). "Elizabeth Boyd, spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said Gadola's ruling is more evidence that Miller made the right decision. "We now have four courts telling us that Secretary Miller did the right thing," Boyd said." (7)

Where do things stand now? "Buchanan attorney Philip Vestevich said he would appeal Gadola's decision to the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. "We're not going to give up," he said Monday afternoon. The ACLU of Michigan filed a court brief Monday in support of Buchanan. While the ACLU is not endorsing a presidential candidate, it is seeking to protect the rights of Michigan voters to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice, ACLU Executive Director Kary Moss said in a written statement." (7)

So, we have Republican officials/judges and The Natural Law Party candidate (Pat's rival, John Hagelin) on one side, and Pat Buchanan, Democratic judges, and the ACLU on the other side! Talk about strange bed-fellows.