Steve G.

Phillies wants off Massachusetts ballot

In Libertarian on August 9, 2008 at 2:18 pm

From Worcester Telegram and Gazette:

George D. J. Phillies is a reluctant candidate. Actually, he says he’s not a candidate at all.

The Worcester man, a physics professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is so unwilling to stand for office in November’s election that he is taking part in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts against Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office seeking to be removed from the ballot as the Libertarian Party’s standard-bearer for president.

Mr. Phillies, 60, says that while his party’s state committee chose him as its nominee here, he told state election officials in Mr. Galvin’s office last spring that if he did not win the national nomination at the party’s convention in Denver last May, he would want the winner to substitute for his place on the state ballot.

Former Georgia congressman Bob Barr eventually won the party’s nomination, besting 13 other candidates, including Mr. Phillies, who came in fifth.

After the May 25 convention, Mr. Phillies asked the Secretary of State’s office if he could substitute the names of Mr. Barr and Mr. Barr’s running mate, New York businessman Wayne A. Root, for his name. But in June, election division officials denied the request.

They said the party would have to repeat the signature-gathering process to get the new names on the ballot, according to ACLU officials and Mr. Phillies, who also happens to be the vice president of the Worcester County chapter of the state ACLU.

Brian S. McNiff, a spokesman for Mr. Galvin, declined comment, saying the matter is in litigation.

Mr. Phillies is not a big fan of Mr. Barr, even though he says he plans to vote for him and supports him as his party’s nominee.

The two diverge significantly on political matters. Mr. Phillies, who styles himself a “centrist” Libertarian, calls Mr. Barr a “right-wing Republican” Libertarian whose stances against same-sex marriage and for the war on drugs are, to him, contrary to basic Libertarian principles of individual freedom.

“I think most of the state members of the party will not be heartbroken if this suit is not settled until after Nov. 4,” Mr. Phillies said. “But if you want to be a good man or a good woman, you have to keep your word.”

Meanwhile, the ACLU sees the issue as a case of ballot access freedom and the state squeezing a small party’s ability to field the candidate it chooses, depriving voters of the right to vote for the candidate they prefer.

John Reinstein, the state ACLU’s legal director, said that the state’s rules for ballot substitution appear to be “totally arbitrary,” arguing election officials have allowed similar substitutions in the past.

“It’s much easier for Republicans or Democrats to get on the ballot than a third party,” he said.

But what would be the harm of Mr. Phillies keeping his place on the ballot?

“He’s not the candidate,” Mr. Reinstein said. “Obviously, the candidate they’ve nominated is much better known.”

  1. It is gratifying to see the Boston Tea Party’s endorsed candidate is a man of his word. What a mensch!

  2. Why’d it say Root was a New York Businessman?

  3. NY and NV are hard to distinguish without reading glasses, per chance?

  4. Who’s Phillies’ running mate in New Hampshire and Massachusetts? Karen Kwiatkowski? Chris Bennett?

  5. Phillies continues to show what a classy guy he is.

  6. Root was born and raised in New York. Phillies probably gave Root’s bio in 3 paragraphs, which the reporter or editor cut to 3 words.

  7. BTW, I have a couple of questions of my own:

    1) What is someone who isn’t a member of the Libertarian Party (Mr. Bennett) doing on a Libertarian ballot line, in the first place. The (Secretary of) State doesn’t have a right to the party name; how can he give it to a non-Libertarian?

    2) This Aug. 9 story says Phillies wants off the ballot, and plans to support and vote for Barr. Yet a Boston Tea Party news release sent out 2 days later says Phillies is convinced the LP is disintegrating, and intends to campaign actively.

    That sounds like a contradiction. So what gives:

    a) Did George Phillies change his mind within a couple of days?
    b) Did Jim Davidson (the author of the news release) fabricate a factoid?
    c) Has Mr. Phillies been saying different things to different people?
    d) or what?

  8. I got my answer to my question 1. Chris Bennett has not resigned from the LP; he’s just announced he’s letting his membership lapse. He’ll remain an LP member through the election.

    Can anyone help with my 2?

  9. I only posted what appeared in the Worcester newspaper.

    It was my understanding before I posted this entry, as well as when I posted this entry, that George Phillies is working to place Barr/Root on the ballot in place of Phillies/Bennett. That is still my understanding. The ACLU has filed suit to force that change, and was originally contacted by George Phillies to do so. I therefore have no reason to believe that my understanding is incorrect.

    I have not seen the BTP news release, so I can’t speak to that at all. Perhaps you can post it here, to place your question in some context.

  10. George Dance,

    I’ll always be a Libertarian but after I let my membership lapse, I will no longer be a National LP member. You can’t take the Libertarian out of me….

  11. ENM: Here’s the link to the website copy:

    FWIW, my understanding was the same as yours. But I’ve thought of another possible explanation:

    Phillies is trying to get off the ballot, and will vote for Barr, in MA, but intends to actively campaign in NH.

    I’m hoping he’ll find the thread and comment, just like Chris Bennett did.

    Chris: I hope it’s clear that I wasn’t questioning your libertarianism, or even your commitment to the Libertarian Party (as distinct from its national ticket). And I’m certainly not criticizing your campaign or GP’s; just trying as a writer to find out what’s going on.

    Hey, wait a minute … since you’re the running mate, you can tell me what’s going on. Are you and/or GP going to campaign in NH?

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