With public pressure mounting and two federal lawsuits in the works, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Feb. 28 added Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) presidential candidate Stephen Durham to the primary ballot as a contender on the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) ticket. Durham is running a national “un-millionaire campaign” with Seattle Radical Women Organizer Christina López as his vice-presidential partner.
However, without proffering an explanation, Bowen continued to block the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) candidate, Peta Lindsay.
The controversy arose when, three weeks earlier, Bowen released the names of presidential candidates to be listed on the ballot for the June 5 primary and omitted two of four candidates submitted by PFP.
From the campaign trail in New York, Durham hailed the ruling as a victory: “An act of political censorship has been partially corrected,” he said. He pointed out, however, “Bowen continues to brazenly ignore elections law, shunning the Lindsay campaign and citing my filing with the Federal Election Commission as her reason for placing me on the ballot – when FEC filing is not even a requirement for Peace and Freedom Party candidates!”
At a press conference called by the FSP and PFP outside Bowen’s office the day following the reversal, PFP State Chair C.T. Weber clarified that “The Secretary of State is not given free rein in the Elections Code to pick anyone she wants. . She is required to place the names of recognized candidates on the ballot.” He added that it had been thoroughly proven to the Secretary of State that Durham was a recognized candidate for the presidential nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party. PFP is one of the only socialist electoral coalitions with ballot status in the United States.
In a statement read at the press conference, civil liberties attorney Robert Barnes, who was prepared to file suit against Bowen in federal district court on behalf of Durham, said, “If the Secretary of State in the past could have decided which candidate they considered a viable candidate, abolitionist parties may have never found their voice, feminist voices never found their platform, civil rights advocates and war opponents never found their audience.”
Speakers at the news briefing included representatives from the National Lawyers Guild, Radical Women, the Los Angeles March 4th Committee, U.S. Senate candidate and PFP leader Marsha Feinland, past PFP gubernatorial candidate and feminist educator Merle Woo, and organizers from the two omitted campaigns. Respected NLG Los Angeles Executive Director James Lafferty sent a statement.
After the press conference, activists delivered over 500 petitions to Bowen calling on her to follow the law, uphold voters’ rights, and stop blocking socialist candidates from the ballot. The petitions were signed by notables including the two PFP presidential candidates Bowen did not censor, Stewart Alexander and Rocky Anderson, and linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky. The petition was initiated by Unite Left!, an East Coast student group.
Commented Durham, who with López is running on an anti-capitalist, feminist platform: “After failing to repress the Occupy movement with police violence, rubber bullets and tear gas, the California political establishment is attempting to silence socialist voices in the election arena. The Secretary of State’s clampdown on free speech and the right of PFP supporters to vote freely in their primary is symptomatic of the desire to silence growing dissatisfaction against austerity and unemployment.”
For more information on the Durham-López campaign and the developing case to defend the autonomy of the Peace and Freedom Party and others outside the two-party system from political censorship, visit www.VoteSocialism.com or www.peaceandfreedom.org
Contact: Doug Barnes, Campaign Manager
Freedom Socialist 2012 Presidential Campaign Committee
4710 University Way NE, Ste. 100
Seattle, WA 98105
Los Angeles Campaign Office
San Francisco Bay Area Campaign Office
February 28, 2012
Dear Mr. Durham:
On February 6, 2012, my office announced the list of Generally Recognized Presidential Candidates for the June 5, 2012, Presidential Primary Election. Subsequent to that announcement, you mailed a Statement of Candidacy to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), postmarked February 6, 2012, which was received by the FEC on February 10, 2012, and have been actively campaigning for the office of United States President. Therefore, your name will appear on California’s June 5, 2012, Presidential Primary Election Ballot as a candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party’s presidential nomination.
Enclosed is a revised list of recognized candidates for all qualified political parties in California. If you would prefer that your name appear differently on the ballot than it does on the list, or if you have questions about further ballot access requirements, please contact Evelyn Mendez in the Elections Division of my office at (916) 653-9155.
Should you wish to withdraw your name from the race, you must do so no later than March 29, 2012, by submitting an affidavit to my office in accordance with California Elections Code section 6724.
If I can be of assistance to you in any way throughout this election cycle, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Secretary of State