Michigan LP files in federal court to oppose state’s refusal to place Libertarian on the ballot

Michigan is refusing to put the name of Gary Johnson of New Mexico, Gary Johnson of Texas, or anyone else on the ballot as the Libertarian Party candidate for President.

Christopher M. Thomas, the Michigan Director of Elections, sent a letter dated Friday, September 7, to Bill Gelineau, the Libertarian Party of Michigan political director, saying the name of Gary E. Johnson of Austin, Texas, a former national secretary of the Libertarian Party, "will not appear on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot."

The letter was sent the same day that U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman of the Southern Division of the Eastern District Court issued his written opinion that the name of Gary Johnson, the former two-term Governor of New Mexico, could not appear on the Michigan general election ballot because of the state’s so-called "sore loser law."

Governor Johnson’s name was on the Republican primary ballot on February 28, in spite of his effort to withdraw. The "sore loser law" prohibits a candidate who was on one party’s primary ballot from appearing on the general election ballot as the candidate of another 

The Libertarian Party has ballot access in Michigan because it received more than a certain percentage of the vote in a previous election. As a "qualified" party under the Michigan Election Law, it is entitled to list all of its candidates on the ballot.

Governor Johnson won the Libertarian nomination for President at the party’s national convention in Las Vegas on May 5.

Delegates at the state convention in Livonia on Saturday, June 2, knowing of the "sore loser law" controversy, nominated both Johnson of New Mexico and Johnson of Texas for President.

They said that their first choice was for the former Governor. But, the delegates nominated Gary E. Johnson of Texas as a substitute "stand-in" candidate if their court challenge to the "sore loser law" did not prevail.

The Libertarian Party of Michigan notified the state of its Presidential nomination and electors on Monday, June 4.

Gary E. Johnson of Texas expressed shock that Michigan was refusing to put any Libertarian Presidential candidate on the ballot.

He noted that the Republican Party, which had intervened in the case on the side of the state, had declared in its written brief, "the statute does not prohibit … the Party from nominating virtually whoever it wants as its candidate for President…. The statue’s only effect is to prevent the Party from nominating as its candidate any of a few dozen people who ran for a different party’s nomination in a primary election earlier this election cycle."

And he pointed out that Judge Borman wrote about the Libertarian Party of Michigan (LPM), "Nor is defendant LPM prevented from nominating the candidate of its choice, but only prevented from nominating one of the handful of candidates who choose to run for a different political party in the primary race."

"The Libertarian Party is entitled under the Michigan Election Law to have somebody on the ballot as its candidate for President. If it is not going to be Governor Johnson, then I am that somebody," he said.

The Michigan Libertarian Party will file suit in the 6th district Federal Court to compel the state to put Gov. Gary Johnson on the ballot and failing that, to order the state to put Gary E. Johnson of Austin, Texas, on the ballot. The MLP has vowed to seek an injunction to stop the printing of the ballot.