Secretary of State Charlie White could well have proven to be the worst thing that ever happened to the Indiana GOP – at least since Richard Nixon’s participation in Watergate triggered a Democratic landslide in 1974 – if not for a late-session maneuver by the GOP-controlled legislature.
If the Indiana Recount Commission rules next week that White was ineligible to run for the office he won last November, Democrats pick up a key statewide office and the Republican Party’s image is tarnished. But a White loss could have inflicted even greater damage to the party, giving it the legal status of an also-ran third party for the 2012 and 2014 statewide elections.
Many Indiana election laws are based on how each party’s candidate performs in the secretary of state’s race every four years. The parties of candidates who gain a certain percentage of the vote in that race – 2 percent for some aspects under the law, 10 percent for others – have many advantages, not the least of which is that their candidates automatically appear on ballots. Democratic and Republican candidates always exceed the margin; more recently, so do Libertarians.
But if the commission determines White did not legally run, he arguably didn’t legally receive any votes. Under long-standing law, that would have meant Republicans received zero percent in that race. But late amendments to a wide-ranging elections bill provided that a Recount Commission ruling would not affect statutes pertaining to the percentage of votes cast for a candidate in an election.
The provision went into effect upon passage of the law instead of July 1, when most new laws take effect. If it had not, an adverse ruling for the GOP in White’s case possibly would have meant the party would be legally regarded as a minor party, eliminating its primary and requiring petitions for each candidate.
Because an earlier effort to retroactively give the governor authority to fill the office if White were declared ineligible was widely criticized, the new law changes the ballot vacancy process but exempts elections before Jan. 1 of this year.
Full Article: Easing White’s damage | The Journal Gazette | Fort Wayne, IN.