"Unbranding" in the Arizona GOP

We recently took note of the “unbranding” movement, in which Firm A might seem to damage Firm B by sending Firm B’s product to an undesirable endorser. The example of the day was Snooki and her Gucci purse. There would seem to be no limit to the unbranding opportunities in the modern world. How about, say, politics? The Times headline says it all – “Republican Runs Street People on Green Ticket” — but Marc Lacey‘s article is well worth a read. The gist:

Mr. Pearcy and other drifters and homeless people were recruited onto the Green Party ballot by a Republican political operative [Steve May] who freely admits that their candidacies may siphon some support from the Democrats. Arizona’s Democratic Party has filed a formal complaint with local, state and federal prosecutors in an effort to have the candidates removed from the ballot, and the Green Party has urged its supporters to steer clear of the rogue candidates. …

The Democratic Party is fuming over Mr. May‘s tactics and those of at least two other Republicans who helped recruit candidates to the Green Party, which does not have the resources to put candidates on ballots around the state and thus creates the opportunity for write-in contenders like the Mill Rats to easily win primaries and get their names on the ballot for November. Complaints about spurious candidates have cropped up often before, though never involving an entire roster of candidates drawn from a group of street people.

In the movie version, of course, the Green Party candidate – a drifter who sometimes works as a tarot card reader – would somehow win the local election, quickly jump onto the national political stage and become president, teaching us all a lesson in humility and leadership.

Eileen M. Wyatt

This isn't unbranding, as the Republicans doing it want people to vote for the homeless candidates, not use them as a reason to reject the Green party.

Filling out the Green candidates with homeless people has to work on the assumption that many liberals who ordinarily vote Democrat would vote Green if there was a Green candidate in the general election. The homeless Green candidate slides through the primary unopposed -- as the NYT article notes (Arizona does not have open primaries) -- then becomes a seemingly viable alternative to the Democrat candidate in the general election, splitting the liberal vote.


Sending competitor's handbags to Snooki sounds more like anti-branding than unbranding.


So this hasn't been happening since elections first came on the scene?

Ian Kemmish

There is, however, potential for "unbranding". If Tony Hayward were to become the Republican candidate for Governor, with the obvious manifesto, it might persuade Republicans to discover their inner Green sympathies....


don't they have a league of women voters or somesuch in Arizona to provide info on the candidates? don't liberals have the wherewithal to search out a candidate's background info on the internet?


Yes, we should have some clear way of knowing whether candidates are legit or not.

2008 was not that long ago, and we had thart foreign-born, socialist pot-smoker on the ballot even though he certainly would not have been able to satisfy a decent credentialing.

Will Roger Calero run yet again in 2012, and be able to get on the ballot, despite having presented no birth certificate that indicates eligibility?


Um, isn't the purpose of ANY political candidacy to siphon off votes from the opposition?

Dr J

Oh those wacky republicans! Boys will be boys, next thing you know they will run ads through a front organization showing claiming the MBLA or an islamist terrorist group supporting the democrat - ha ha, maybe next they will burn down the capitol and blame it on the opposition - oh well, buyer beware! Or maybe they can make the ballot so confusing lots of people will vote for the wrong canidate! wouldn't that be funny? - I think they learned this stuff in school - fascism 101


Alvin Greene anybody?


They can't win on ideas or the capacity to govern. Dirty tricks and subterfuge is what's left. Fear, hatred, Distortion, Distraction and Division is all Republicans have to offer America.


In general, I'm tired of primary elections. I think the California Governor special recall election was fascinating in that in Schwarzenegger, a more or less centrist rose to the top, in a way that would have been unlikely to have occured in a Republican primary in that state (recall, Reagan and Nixon were R-CA governors). So, any time anybody throws gasoline on the 19th century machine-politics artifact known as a primary election is a good thing.

Now, that said, where's the Green Party in this? They created their third party, and if they don't keep up some minimum participation level, they lose their automatic ballot status. So it's in their interest to get warm bodies in as many races as they can, and make sure at least one of them gets the x percent or x count that keeps them viable.

The Green party isn't Gucci in this case, it's a startup scrappy-doo handbag designer fresh out of art school, where getting one picture on TMZ in the hands of a Z-list celebrity would be their goal, not something that makes them shudder.


Jerry Joslyn

I'm the endorsed Arizona Green Party candidate for the U.S Senate. Here's my take from my blog at joslynforsenate.com

Although the Arizona media has largely ignored the Republican dirty tricks directed at the Arizona Green Party, the New York Times put it on their front page this morning. Let me explain again that the founders of this republic specifically spoke out against the division of American politics into "two great parties." We do not have a "two party system" in the United States. What we have is a political duopoly which does everything it can to keep competition off the ballots, and writes the statutes to sabotage any opposition. In this case the law that has allowed the homeless on Mill Ave. to steal our ballot lines on the November ballot with one vote was buried in the statutes. It was the two old parties that put it there. To frame this as a case of the Green Party ruining the "two party system" is ludicrous. We have the worst economy since the Great Depression, a costly nine year war in which we can't defeat an old man in a cave on a dialysis machine, and a health care system that costs us twice as much as the other leading countries. Meanwhile our Senators spend half of their time attacking each other and the other half raising money from special interests. The "two party system" isn't the solution to our problems, it's at the center of our problems.



They had this problem in England... In the movie Ali G Indahouse.

Richard Grayson

I was a write-in candidate for Congress in the Green Party primary in Arizona's Sixth Congressional District two weeks ago. I just looked at today's official state canvass from the primary, released at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. MST.

I see I have won the party's nomination and will appear on the ballot in November although I received only six write-in votes (one was me, a Green Party member for two years; another was my brother, an independent who in Arizona can vote in the party primary of his choice).

This is pretty absurd. Like the homeless guys spoken about in the article and the others who were recently Republicans, I haven't been endorsed by the officials of the Arizona Green Party, either - despite my adherence to the party's Ten Key Values and a long history in liberal, antiwar and environmental politics from my first campaign work handing out leaflets saying "Get On the Johnson, Humphrey, Kennedy Team" on the corners of Flatlands Brooklyn, back in the fall of 1964. (You can google me and find out more than you'd ever want to know.)

I am not homeless. I live in a ranch house in Apache Junction, Arizona; a condo in Sunrise Golf Village, Florida; and a house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I vote in Arizona because my liberal vote is needed more there than in New York City or Broward County.

The Arizona Green Party apparently knew about the law in which write-in candidates could win with only one vote (I didn't, actually; interestingly, the law seems to have been interpreted differently before this, and only this year the Secretary of State apparently realized the Elections Division had misapplied the statute pertaining to write-in votes in primaries of parties with continuous ballot presence (in that case the required number of signatures would have been 221 in my case, something I assumed was impossible) to a party that had petitioned its way on the ballot. Thus, until three weeks ago, I assumed I was running as a mere gesture against SB 1070 and other weird Arizona politics. It was the Arizona Green Party that informed me I could win with just one write-in vote and I was, to put it mildly, surprised.

This is obviously a stupid law that needs to be revised (the kookocracy that controls the Arizona legislature obviously specializes in stupid laws), but the Green Party should have thought about this problem before they did the petitioning to get on the ballot.

Moreover, the problem extends to a number of those candidates whose name appeared on the primary ballot, candidates who got the necessary number of signatures (not that easy to do) to do so. Thus, the Green Party primary for Governor -- the office for which, as in New York State, a required number of votes in November is required -- included one candidate, Larry Gist (seen in last week's very funny gubernatorial debate) -- opposed by the party.

The Arizona Green Party had time to get a write-in candidate to oppose Mr. Gist, who does not represent the party's philosophy, but failed to do so. More importantly, you'd think that intelligent people collecting signatures and working hard to get their political party on the ballot -- and I know how hard they worked -- would have thought this through and had a candidate ready, as minor political parties had done in other states.

(In New York, the Greens first ran the TV actor Al "Grandpa Munster" Lewis in 1998, and as Wikipedia states, "[Lewis's] total of 52,533 votes exceeded the threshold of votes set by New York law (50,000), and hence guaranteed the Green Party of New York an automatic ballot line for the next four years.")

This was an exercise in poor planning by the leaders of the Arizona Green Party, and this problem could have been avoided. Now they are providing Republicans with spoiler candidates who can siphon off liberal, otherwise Democratic voters. (I am running in an utterly safe GOP congressional district, for a seat held by Rep. Jeff Flake, a Republican who's never gotten less than 65% of the vote and who didn't even have a Democratic opponent in two of the last three congressional elections.)

On the other hand, I am proud to be a member of the Arizona Green Party, which is providing comic relief to all Americans in an otherwise grim political season.


Kermit the Frog

So the greens are the third largest party in the US. The NY Times writes a story about how Republicans appear to be recruiting candidates to run on the Green line, presumably to drain votes away from the Democrats. Perhaps the biggest article the NY Times has devoted to the Greens in years

And this insightful article doesn't bother to include a single statement from a representative of the Green Party.


I would probably watch that movie.

Jerry Joslyn

Richard Greyson wasn't endorsed by the Arizona Green Party because he lives in New York.

Kemit your point is well taken. Hopefully there will be another story tomorrow.


In Washington, the Republicans have "unbranded" themselves by not referring to themselves as Republicans. Instead, primary candidates have the redundant legend "Prefers GOP Party."

Richard Grayson

I am now being sued by the Arizona Green Party after winning its Sixth Congressional District primary with six write-in votes.

Another write-in candidate won the Third Congressional District primary with five write-in votes. He is not being sued.

I assume that is because he has been "endorsed" by the state party and I have not.

He first registered as a Green Party voter in 2010. I first registered as a Green Party voter in 2008.

We both subscribe to and endorse the party's Ten Key Values.

If the Arizona Green Party were trying to kick off all the write-in candidates from the November ballot, it would be one thing, but they are selectively accepting some write-in primary winners and rejecting others.

This seems unfair, a violation of the equal protection rights of the voters for some write-in candidates as well as to the candidates.

Write-in candidates who are situated similarly should be treated similarly. A political party cannot pick and choose which of its primary winners will appear on the general election balllot.



Eliot Spitzer is supporting Mario Cuomo for governor. Now, that's political unbranding. The only question is was it intentional on Spitzer's part.