What might we expect when hearings resume today before Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins in the law suit brought by Mark Fisher against the Massachusetts Republican Party? I’ll be waiting by the twitter feed but Stephanie Ebbert of the Boston Globe reported on last week’s hearing and gave some sense of what to look for today.
The report indicated that Judge Wilkins is asking Attorney General Martha Coakley and Secretary of State William Galvin “whether a GOP gubernatorial candidate could be named to a primary ballot without the nomination of his party.” (In this case I assume the judge meant 15% at the convention). The AG has yet to weigh in, but Secretary Galvin responded that “I can’t put anybody on the ballot unless I get a certificate saying somebody got 15 percent. There’s no other way around it.”
And that it seems to me is the proper question. If Fisher got his 15% he is on. If not, he isn’t. On this at least the state Republican Party is correct; there is no magic wand to put someone on the ballot who didn’t get 15%.
The Republican Party’s attorney Louis M. Ciavarra argued that the court should stay out of a private intra-party dispute. Judge Wilkins wasn’t buying, indicating the court could be involved in order to “prevent fraud and chicanery.” Which is pretty much what Fisher alleges.
I haven’t read the pleadings other than Fisher’s complaint (readers feel free to send me the GOP’s Answer and memos filed on the motions) but the Globe article doesn’t have much to say from Attorney Ciavarra other than, judge, don’t hear it. Oh, and that Fisher got all that he was entitled to, and that didn’t include a guarantee of 15%.
I think what Judge Wilkins might say though, is that Fisher may not have any guarantee of 15% but he had a right to have the votes counted properly. If Judge Wilkins sees it the way I have in posts here, here, here, and here, then the Mass GOP read its own rules incorrectly and a proper count gives Fisher his 15%.
Then there is the tantalizing request by Judge Wilkins for a legal opinion from AG Coakley, the frontrunner (in polls) for the Democratic nomination for governor. An ill wind upon Charlie Baker would blow her some good. That is in part because as Ebbert reports, the state party can’t provide Baker any financial help until the nomination is secured. Ebbert writes: “If Baker is alone on the ballot, his campaign can immediately tap into all the party’s resources and raise higher-level contributions, in conjunction with the party PACs, to prepare an attack on the Democratic candidates, Coakley included.”
It should be an interesting hearing.