Disputed Arizona Greens Drop Out of Race

The Arizona Capital Times reported Friday that three Green Party candidates whom the Arizona Green Party was trying to have removed from the ballot have voluntarily dropped out. (ht:johnbethany)

Less than a day after a federal judge said they had the right to stay on the ballot, three alleged “sham” Green Party candidates withdrew from their races.

Christopher Campbell, a Senate candidate in Legislative District 10, Clint Clement, a House candidate in Legislative District 17, and Ryan Blackman, a candidate in the 5th Congressional District, officially withdrew from their races the morning of Sept. 10, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

The three were part of a slate of Green Party write-in candidates whom Democrats accused of being GOP recruits who switched their party registration and entered their races to siphon votes away from Democrats. Their withdrawals come the day after U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell ruled against the Arizona Green Party in its bid to have the candidates thrown off the ballot.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge will hear arguments in a separate lawsuit involving the Green Party candidates on Sept. 13.

Two others dropped out before the ruling as well. Legislative District 23 Senate candidate Ryan Blackman pulled out of his race on Sept. 8, and Secretary of State candidate Michelle Lochmann withdrew on Sept. 1.

The withdrawals pull Greens out of races in which they could have helped swing the election to Republicans. Campbell was running in the same district where an alleged “sham” Green candidate helped defeat an incumbent Democratic lawmaker in 2008, and Republican Steve May hoped to seize one of the Democrat-controlled House seats in District 17.

May accused Democrats and the Arizona Green Party of intimidating the candidates enough to force them out of the race. May paid for former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton to represent four Mill Avenue street people he recruited to run as Green write-ins, but said most of the disputed candidates cannot afford attorneys.

“The Democrats knew their case was bogus. All they wanted to do was intimidate and harass these people and get them to drop off the ballot,” May said.

The three candidates who dropped out Sept. 10 could not be reached for comment.

Ironically, all three could still end up on the ballot. Maricopa County began printing ballots at 7 a.m., before the candidates withdrew. Depending on which district’s ballots were printed first, one or all of them could still be on the ballot, though votes for them in the November general election would not count, said Assistant Secretary of State Jim Drake.

“I can’t guarantee that they won’t be on the ballot,” Drake said.

Lochmann actually tried to get back on the ballot, but Drake said candidates are not allowed under state law to get back in the race after withdrawing.

“Once you’re off, you’re off,” Drake said. “Buyer’s remorse.”

The superior court lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 8, also seeks an injunction that would prevent county officials from printing and distributing ballots with the disputed candidates’ names on them, although Maricopa County has already started printing its ballots.

The suit was filed by the Democratic-tied law firm Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, with four Arizona voters listed as the plaintiffs. One of those voters, Barbara Njos, is the activities and volunteer coordinator for the Pinal County Democratic Party.

In addition to the 11 candidates named in the Green Party’s federal lawsuit, the superior court suit also names Green gubernatorial candidate Larry Gist as a defendant. Gist was the lone Green candidate in the governor’s race, but is not endorsed by the party, which is openly opposed to his candidacy.

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