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Socialists protest exclusion from California primary

by Doug Barnes Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 at 12:59 PM 206-985-4621

When California Secretary of State Debra Bowen released the names of presidential candidates to be listed on the ballot for the June 5 state primary, she omitted two of four candidates submitted by the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) electoral coalition: Stephen Durham of the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) and Peta Lindsay of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL).

The decision met with immediate objections from all three parties, who
demanded that Bowen reverse course and add the names to the list, as
she is legally required to do. Thus far she has refused and the Freedom
Socialist Party is pursuing a legal challenge.

Durham, who is running for president on a Freedom Socialist Party ticket
with Christina López for vice president, called Bowen's decision "an act of
political censorship." Durham mused, "It makes you wonder if the
Democrats are afraid of real socialists taking on Obama." Bowen is
a Democrat.

Durham, 64, who has previously run for New York state office, is on the
FSP National Committee and serves as the party's organizer in New York
City in addition to representing the party in Latin America and
the Caribbean.

In an unsigned Feb. 17 reply to a letter of protest by the San Francisco
Durham/López campaign coordinator, Bowen's office listed a series of
requirements as an apparent explanation for Durham's exclusion. The
criteria included "having a campaign office, a campaign website, making
Federal Election Commission filings, participating in debates, and being
referred to in the news media."

Kevin Akin of the PFP California executive committee answered this
argument in a comprehensive response to the anonymous official in the
Secretary of State's office.

Akin pointed out that, first of all, the state's criteria for each party are
different and specific. The state elections code only requires a PFP
candidate to be "generally advocated for or recognized throughout the
United States or California as actively seeking the presidential nomination
of the Peace and Freedom Party." This, wrote Akin, is verifiably true for
both Stephen Durham and Peta Lindsay.

As Aiken explained, the Durham candidacy meets most of the stipulations
the anonymous official outlined, even though they were designed for other
parties. While the campaign for Durham/López will be primarily a write-in
effort outside of California, it has offices around the country, including two
in California. It filed with the FEC shortly before Bowen's announcement
and will be participating in upcoming debates. Since the campaign's launch
in mid-January, it has already received significant coverage online and in
independent media.

López linked Bowen's stand to the larger issue of new restrictive voter ID
laws. She pointed out that "Bowen is not only violating the rights of the
three parties involved, she is denying California voters the right to choose
their representatives. Across the country, people are being required to
produce birth certificates and even proof of residency to vote. It points to
the fact that this is not what a democracy looks like when minor parties
are excluded from the ballot and laws are passed targeting groups that are
already underrepresented at the polls: the poor and homeless, immigrants,
people of color and prisoners." López, 43, is president of Seattle Radical
Women and a leader in a three-year grass-roots campaign against budget
cuts in Washington state.

Among those who agree with Durham and López is Unite Left! of New
York. This group has initiated an on-line petition demanding that Bowen
conform with the law. Doug Barnes, Durham/López national campaign
manager, is asking those who support greater political diversity on the
ballot to sign the petition. It can be found at

Additionally, he would like to see Bowen deluged with letters, phone calls,
emails and tweets. Her office can be reached at

Contact: Doug Barnes, Campaign Manager

Freedom Socialist 2012 Presidential Campaign Committee
4710 University Way NE, Ste. 100
Seattle, WA 98105
Phone: 206-985-4621,

In California
Los Angeles Campaign Office
Phone: 323-732-6416,

San Francisco Bay Area Campaign Office
Phone: 415-864-1278,
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