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Democrats Sue to Block Green Candidate

Preaching about ‘democracy’ while manipulating rival party

By Ken Kurson, April 19, 2024 7:52 am

Power Lawyer Marc Elias has earned a reputation for hardball tactics on behalf of brand-name Democrats. (Elias Law Firm)

Arizona Democrats have scored points by scolding Republicans for allegedly denying voters the opportunity to support the candidate of their choice. Well, this week, we saw that Democrats themselves can play that game when it suits their interest.

On Monday, a lawsuit was filed that seeks to disqualify Green Party US Senate candidate Arturo Hernandez from the primary election in July. The first hearing occurred yesterday.

The named plaintiff in the suit is Liane Breckling, but the muscle behind it is clearly Marc Elias, the founder of the Democracy Docket and Elias Law Group, which advocates for Democratic candidates and causes. The ultimate Washington insider, Elias served as general counsel for the presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and John Kerry in 2004. He’s got a legal mind so sharp that he simultaneously upbraided Republicans for gerrymandering while defending Democrats for gerrymandering.

The suit challenges Hernandez on several eligibility grounds, including “the legal sufficiency of the nomination petition,” which it alleges “contains fewer than the minimum number of valid signatures.”

The defendants are Hernandez, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, as well as the Boards of Supervisors in all the counties of the state.

The facts seem to be pretty straightforward. The candidate filed petitions including 2355 signatures to be on the ballot as a US Senate candidate for the July 30, 2024 election. That is nearly twice the 1288 required to make the ballot. Signers are required to be registered members of the party whose nomination the candidate seeks or registered voters who have checked “independent” or “no party.” And of course there are a hundred other rules about dating the signature and so forth that are routinely ignored by judges who tend to err on the side of including good-faith candidates.

So here we have a high-powered Democratic power lawyer making the case that a Green Party candidate ought to be barred from the ballot.

The Globe reached out to the two lawyers at Elias who actually filed the suit, Elisabeth C Frost and Omeed Alerasool, and this story will be updated with their comments should they choose to respond.

In the meantime, the Green Party itself has expressed dismay over what it sees as Democratic Party shenanigans to interfere with its affairs.

Late Tuesday night, the Green Party of Arizona tweeted a thorough and compelling thread that maintains it has “discovered compelling evidence that suggests that the Democratic Party is attempting to interfere in our primary election process for the U.S. Senate race via the campaign of faux-Green candidate Mike Norton.

The thread is well worth reading in its entirety, but the TLDR is that the Green Party basically accuses a different candidate, Mike Norton, of not being a party member and filing a statement of interest “a mere two weeks before the deadline to submit a sufficient number of candidate nomination petitions. He had no prior involvement or contact with the AZGP whatsoever before this.”

Norton is alleged to have paid petitioners from an out of state outfit called Wells Marketing LLC start rounding up signatures. According to the Arizona Green Party, that’s when things got really fishy.

The lawsuit filed against Green Party candidate Arturo Hernandez and all the counties of Arizona.

“On March 21st, the “Save Democracy PAC” a super-PAC with ties to the Democratic Party, donates the max contribution of $5K to Norton’s candidate committee. Reminder: anybody who knows anything about the #GreenParty knows that we DO NOT EVER accept contributions from super-PACs.”

On March 27th, two more Democratic Party linked super-PACs (“End Citizens United” and “Defend The Vote”) max out donations to Norton’s campaign, contributing $5K each. Both these super-PACs have already officially endorsed @RubenGallego for the 2024 U.S. Senate race in #Arizona.

The thread goes on to detail five individuals who suddenly made max-out contributions to this Norton fellow, including Michael D Smith of Cornerstone GovernmentAffairs, a die-hard Democrat who’s on the DNC Credentials Committee; Paul Bernon, Managing Partner at PMB Ventures, who is a member of DNC Finance Committee; Devin Rhinerson, who was a policy advisor to Diane Feinstein; and David and Elizabeth Steinglass, who are major Biden donors and have given generously to DCCC and DSCC.

The thread concludes by theorizing that Norton may be a plant, who will drop out at the last moment and endorse Ruben Gallego. That’s exactly what happened with 2018 Green Party candidate Angela Green, who dropped out to endorse Kirsten Sinema, who beat Republican Martha McSally in a tight race.

The first hearing on the lawsuit against Hernandez took place yesterday and there appears to be a followup planned for April 23 at 10 am before Judge Danielle Viola. Arizona Globe will follow this developing story as updates become available.

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