Bid to keep Weld off GOP primary ballot off base
THE MASSACHUSETTS REPUBLICAN PARTY appears to have missed a crucial detail when it lambasted the state’s top elections official and suggested he had no business including Bill Weld on the Republican primary ballot.
The party, run by firebrand chairman Jim Lyons, had proposed on Thursday that President Trump should appear alone on the March 3 presidential primary. But Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, decided to add Weld, the state’s former governor, as well as Joe Walsh, a former congressman, to the ballot.
MassGOP responded Thursday with a press statement full of blistering derision for Galvin, accusing him of overlooking one of the requirements to appear on the presidential primary ballot. Lyons implied that Weld is ineligible because he didn’t leave the Libertarian Party and re-enroll as a Republican until earlier this year – on January 17.
“Bill Galvin, vested with the responsibility of ensuring the sanctity of the commonwealth’s collective voting booth, somehow can’t be bothered to consult his own election manual,” Lyons said in a statement. “I can’t believe the Massachusetts Republican Party has had to resort to doing Bill Galvin’s job for him — actually, check that, I can.”
The manual that Lyons was referring to, however, clearly states in its two-paragraph introduction that it pertains to “running for office in state primaries and elections in Massachusetts.”
That is distinct from the presidential primary, according to Galvin’s office, which publishes a separate manual for presidential candidates. The state primary and the presidential primary are held on completely different days. Super Tuesday, when voters in Massachusetts and several other states will register their support for candidates vying for their party’s presidential nomination, is on March 3, 2020. The state primary, when the parties’ candidates for Congress, state rep, and state Senate will be selected, is slated for roughly six months later, on September 1.
The process to qualify for offices appearing on the state primary ballot is very different from the processes available to presidential candidates. Candidates for state office and Congress each must accumulate a set number of nominating signatures, no matter who they are, but candidates for president have three ways of gaining primary ballot access in Massachusetts.
The state political parties can recommend names of candidates for their primary, which the secretary must then place on the ballot. The secretary of state is required to include the names of individuals “generally advocated or recognized in national news media throughout the United States.” And candidates can qualify for the presidential primary ballot by collecting 2,500 nomination signatures.
The party enrollment requirement that Lyons appears to be referring to applies to candidates who would appear on the state primary ballot – not presidential candidates. The statute governing presidential primary candidacies includes no such requirement.
A former federal prosecutor, Weld was the Republican governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997, when he left midway through his second term to pursue an ambassadorship position. In 2016, Weld was the running mate on the Libertarian Party national ticket.
Hoping to appeal to Republican voters fed up with Trump’s actions and temperament, Weld launched a presidential campaign that has practically no chance of actually sending him to the Oval Office but could damage Trump’s re-election campaign.
In his Thursday evening statement, Lyons teed off on Galvin, gleefully citing Galvin’s own guidance, and mistakenly claiming that it pertains to the presidential primary.
“According to his own election manual — of which Secretary Galvin should be aware of, since he’s been serving in this capacity since 1994 — candidates must file as Republicans at least a year in advance of seeking entry on the Republican presidential primary ballot,” Lyons said.
Neither Lyons nor Evan Lips, the communications director for the MassGOP, responded to requests for comment. The Trump campaign also did not respond to a request for comment.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party sent Galvin’s office 15 names in alphabetical order to appear on the presidential primary ballot: Sen. Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.
Gus Bickford, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, said the GOP is trying to take legitimate choices away from Republican primary voters.
“They’re not allowing the voters to choose,” Bickford said. “This is a democracy. People should be able to choose who they want their candidate to be.”