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Socialists protest exclusion from California primary

by Doug Barnes Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 at 8:59 PM
VoteSocialism@gmail.com 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 www.socialism.com.

Additionally, he would like to see Bowen deluged with letters, phone calls,

emails and tweets. Her office can be reached at http://www.sos.ca.gov/.

Contact: Doug Barnes, Campaign Manager

Freedom Socialist 2012 Presidential Campaign Committee

4710 University Way NE, Ste. 100

Seattle, WA 98105

Phone: 206-985-4621,

Email: VoteSocialism@gmail.com

In California

Los Angeles Campaign Office

Phone: 323-732-6416,

Email: fspla@earthlink.net

San Francisco Bay Area Campaign Office

Phone: 415-864-1278,

Email: bafsp@earthlink.net

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