What in the world could I be talking about, you ask.
As might be recalled, not long ago I pressed the point that non-partisan elections simply mean that political parties and their registered voters do not determine candidates in a primary for a general election against candidates from competing political parties. I stressed that it does not mean that candidates have no political affiliation or that they don’t bring ideological affinities to a non-partisan office.
Some sought to take issue what that description, insisting that they and their favored candidates were pure as the driven snow. (And we know how long snow remains pure after it has been driven.) And that they (in our case, city council/mayor candidates) are blank political slates on which each issue begins to write anew.
Along comes Scott Gessler, Colorado Secretary of State, to say, “Uh, no. That’s not the way it works.”
Douglas County has a hot school board race. Hot because it is sharply divided between pro-voucher candidates and anti-voucher candidates. It’s a fight to see who will control the school board going forward. Douglas County School District is being sued by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union over its voucher plan that would provide substantial school tuition assistance for students to attend religious schools and/or to attend schools outside the normal district boundaries. The Douglas Country voucher program is currently under court injunction preventing the program from going forward.
School board challenger Susan Meek filed a complaint with Gessler’s office claiming her opponent Craig Richardson along with Justin Green Williams and Kevin Larsen, are running as a Republican Party slate. She contends that this is a legal violation because the races are non-partisan. Meek used as evidence fliers that proclaim her opponents as the Douglas County Republican Party’s choices for the school board.
After scratching their collective head for awhile, Gessler’s office found that the statute calling for nonpartisan school board elections applies to how candidates file for office, not how the campaign for it. A candidate cannot file for the school board as a Republican or Democrat, but he or she can run as one.
Scott Gessler is a Republican who ran for the office of Secretary of State in a partisan election. The three pro-voucher candidates are incumbents who have the largest campaign war chests funded by longtime school-reform and Republican activists. Meek and three challengers oppose vouchers. The pro-voucher candidates are predictably using smoke and mirrors to camouflage their pro-voucher stands, preferring instead to use the standard Republican whipping boy – unions. (Big bad bogeymen. Can’t have that.)
So the upshot of this is that Fissinger (that’s me) was right and the Republican Golden Boy Scott Gessler says so. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.