Paperwork Is for the Little People


by Donald Smith

This is a story of two political candidates, from two different parties, and the standard that should –but almost assuredly won’t — be applied to both.

The candidates are Terry McAuliffe, Democrat, running for governor of Virginia in 2021, and Nick Freitas, Republican, running for the House of Delegates in 2019.

The standard is that candidates in Virginia elections have to satisfy state requirements for filling out key paperwork.

In 2019, Nick Freitas didn’t. From the Washington Post, July 26th 2019.

State election officials said his local Republican legislative committee never submitted a required form indicating Freitas was the party’s nominee. The state said another form, which Freitas personally should have filed, was also missing.

Freitas was forced to run as a write-in candidate. (He won).

Apparently, in 2021, Terry McAuliffe has his own paperwork problems. From the AP:

The Republican Party of Virginia filed a lawsuit Thursday asking the courts to remove Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe from the ballot for failing to sign an official form declaring his candidacy…

The formal “declaration of candidacy” McAuliffe submitted to the state’s board of elections to enter the Democratic primary in March is indeed missing his signature — the box he was supposed to sign was left blank, along with lines asking for his phone numbers —- though two witnesses’ signatures were included on the form. The suit also argues the witnesses…violated state law because they could not have witnessed a signing that didn’t happen.

I’ve read several articles about the McAuliffe paperwork foul-up. None of the political or legal experts quoted in them think McAuliffe will be bounced from the ballot. But some do point out the Freitas paperwork episode, and the price he had to pay.

Ed Morrissey, at the HotAir blog, had this to say: “One has to wonder why Freitas would have been forced into a write-in option while McAuliffe might get a pass, especially since the lack of a signature essentially means the same thing in a legal sense — the proper paperwork never got filed.”

Morrissey agrees with the election experts; he thinks McAuliffe will stay on the ballot. But it reminds him of another episode like this, in New Jersey in 2002. (Emphasis added)

This is what’s known as the Torricelli Principle, which is no principle at all. Robert Torricelli bailed out of his 2002 Senate re-election campaign in New Jersey six weeks before the general election due to scandal and his standing in the polls, which suggested that Republicans might capture the seat. The deadline had long passed for replacing Torricelli on the ballot, but a court allowed Democrats to replace Torricelli with Frank Lautenberg, arguing that the law was clear but the outcome was unfair to the voters. Lautenberg ended up winning the seat.

This is what happens when courts become outcome-based rather than statute-based.

Think about that. Morrissey and all the election experts presume McAuliffe will prevail, even if it’s clear that he didn’t comply with state requirements. They expect that Virginia officials will find some way to justify overlooking not only the lack of McAuliffe’s signature, but the fact that two people witnessed a signature that isn’t there!

Have we reached the point in Virginia, where we’re all supposed to just accept that some people or groups will be treated differently under the law? Should average Virginians — and especially Republicans — now presume that the standards applied to them will differ from the standards applied to the progressive elite?

If I were Terry McAuliffe, I would.

We all saw how the Washington Post, a onetime pillar of American journalism, debased itself over the Ralph Northam blackface incident. The Post called for Northam to resign. But, when it became clear that the next likely governor would be Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox — a Republican — the Post’s tone changed. The “outcome” the Post wanted was a progressive Virginia state government. And, voila, the Post changed course. Apparently they didn’t care how two-faced and partisan that made them look. It seems that the outcome, not the principles of journalism (or their reputation), was what really mattered to them.

The Post covered the controversy on Thursday. The Post article closes with a quote from political analyst Bob Holsworth that might as well have come from the McAuliffe campaign: “I don’t see how it benefits Republicans politically to” challenge McAuliffe’s place on the ballot. “You should win the election fair and square with the electorate.” The article’s headline literally dripped bias: “Virginia GOP Tries Legal Tactic to Force Democrat McAuliffe Off The Ballot For Governor.” No mention of Nick Freitas’ experience.

If standards are to be fair and just, they need to apply equally to everyone. We should coin a phrase for this kind of double-standard: the “Virginia Way.” Something akin to, and just as shameful as, the “Chicago Way.” And people wonder why trust in our institutions is eroding…

…and maybe that’s the answer to Holsworth’s question, about how this benefits the Republicans politically. The Republicans might be hinting to Virginians that, not only does Terry McAuliffe get lenient treatment — he expects to get it! He seems to feel entitled to a special, more lenient standard.

Holsworth’s comments, as characterized by the Post, hint at this. The Post prefaced his “win the election fair and square” killshot quote with this statement: “Longtime Virginia political analyst Robert Holsworth said that legalities aside, he was surprised that the Republicans would attempt such a tactic.”

Ummm… legalities aside? LEGALITIES ASIDE??? Do Holsworth, the Washington Post, and the progressive-dominated Virginia MSM think some Virginians are entitled to put annoying “legalities” aside? (Must be nice to be special enough to put the law aside)

A missing signature is a minor thing. Establishing a principle of double standards in the application of the laws is a major, and very bad, thing.

Lots of Virginians are frustrated, for many reasons. One thing guaranteed to frustrate you is watching some people getting to ignore rules that others have to follow. And frustrated people vote.