Westlund Falling Behind on Signatures?

At LoadedOrygun, Torrid and Carla have been following Ben Westlund's effort to make the Oregon ballot, and things aren't looking good.  In a response to an initial post, where Carla gave Westlund's current signature tally--4,858--Jessie Burley of the Westlund campaign offered these data:

Democracy Resources has been on the ground for two weeks collecting our signatures. They reported over 600 signatures the first week and over 600 this past week. Our volunteer team picked up 450 this weekend alone.

But, despite Jessie's enthusiasm, that ain't so hot.  Randy Stapilus at the Ridenbaugh Press does the math:

The ballot status requirement is 18,364 valid (”perfected”) petition signatures delivered by August 29 to the secretary of state’s office. 119 days have passed since Westlund’s announcement, and the campaign’s Stacey Dycus wrote us today that 4,585 signatures have been collected. 78 days are left to collect the remaining 13,779 valid signatures - assuming every signature collected to date is valid (never, of course, a safe assumption).

Put it this way: The Westlund campaign has collected about 39 signatures a day since its launch announcement; it will have to increase that to 177 a day, every day, from here to the end of August - again, assuming every signature is valid - to make the ballot. It will have to more than quadruple its pace, as we head into the summer doldrums and interest in politics tends to slip.

And Torrid Joe back at LoadedOrygun, in comments to a second post, noted that "if those 1,650 feature a big chunk from Rose Festival trolling, so much the worse." 

Trouble ahead?

Since the Westlund campaign is a topic hotly followed here, I'll leave the comments open, but you may want to follow the discussion among Carla, Torrid, and Jessie at LoadedOrygun as well.

  • (Show?)

    rrrr...I tried to post a comment on Loaded's page, but all the characters are showing up in Korea.

    Anyway, I too see a problem with the progress Westlund's campaign is making. One would think now that the primary has been over for almost a month, they would be picking up a lot more steam.

    August is coming pretty quickly. If he can't pick up the signatures, then what will the campaign do? Like any bad bluff, they'll have to fold.

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    One thing about Westlund's effort -- and Jesse writes about this in his post after this one -- is that the campaign is using the same firm, Democracy Resources, that collected signatures against Portland's campaign finance system.

    Despite spending nearly $350,000, that effort failed to gather the 26,691 valid signatures needed to get on the ballot. Collecting signatures from voters from all parties -- not just the much smaller universe elligible for the Westlund petition -- is a much easier task. Further, I would guess, and this really is just a guess, that collecting signatures on behalf of an issue is easier than a relatively unknown candidate.

    Westlund may still have a reasonable shot. He's also collecting signatures from volunteers, who traditionally have much higher validity rates. Still, this would seem like it will be down to the wire. But clearly Democracy Resources is worried enough to throw two proactive health care measures under the bus to get this done.

  • Richard Winger (unverified)

    Westlund has the option of suing to overturn HB 2614. HB 2614 is vulnerable because it is discriminatory...it says any registered voter can sign for a new party, but only someone who didn't vote in the primary (yet is registered) can sign for an independent. There are many federal court precedents that say states cannot make it more difficult for an independent to get on the ballot, than for an entire new party to get on the ballot.

    All the other states that ever had primary screen-outs made the ban apply to new party petitions as well as independent candidate petitions. All the states that had primary screen-outs eventually repealed them, except for Texas.

  • anony (unverified)

    Do you realize how much like you all sound like little gossiping school girls? Holy cow!

    We can punch as many numbers into our calculators as we want and the fact still remains: we don't know what Westlund's strategy is...we're only speculating. And second, this whole independent thing is an entirely new barrel of apples. Not really ever been done before (yeah 75 years ago, but times have changed...right?)

    In fact, I found this article on the petitions a whole lot more interesting than your banal bantering.

  • Sandi (unverified)

    Richard Winger:

    I have heard about court decisions which address the general issue of making it more difficult for independents to get on the ballot, but I haven't heard of any that deal with the distinction between independent candidates and new parties getting on the ballot -- as you suggest.

    Can you help me out here? What are these decisions you're referring to?

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    That's certainly true, we don't know Westlund's strategy. But I find it interesting that anon decided to promote his own site in the way he did. Calling us "gossiping school girls" doesn't enhance your popularity.

    Anyway, I think if Westlund were going to challange HB 2614 he would have done it by now. Challanging something in the courts isn't as simple as one hearing, it may take months. So somehow I don't think that's a good option at this point.

  • Kevin Looper (unverified)

    In addition to the name calling, this discussion thread suffers from confusion around the issue of signature gathering rate and flow.

    The reason the Westlund gathering rate is low right now is tied to the initiative cycle --ballot measures are in high gear pushing towards the July 7th submission deadline. The paid firm he's using therefore doesn't have a lot of capacity to give until after that deadline passes.

    However, from that point on they have nothing but capacity and time. In fact, they'll be the only petition on the street in July and August. 18,000 valid signatures is a low bar for a candidacy (putting an initiative on the ballot requires roughly five times as much). If you have the cash, you could get the whole job done in as little as two weeks. And Westlund has the cash.

    So put down the calculators, cause there's plenty of time and money to get Westlund on the ballot if he wants to be. Sorry, folks.

  • Richard Winger (unverified)

    I agree that Westlund will not have any trouble getting on the ballot, but in case anyone is interested in the legal issue (that states cannot make it more difficult for a statewide independent to get on the ballot, than an entire new party) see DeLaney v Bartlett, 370 F Supp 2d 373 (2004). The court struck down North Carolina's petition requirement for independent candidates on the grounds that it was more difficult than the new party petition, and listed all the other precedents.

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    Thanks for posting the relevent case. I might be interesting reading. I still think if Westlund is going on challenge the law he'd need to do it pretty soon. Personally, if I were them, I think it woudld be a great idea. However, it is all a game of speculation as to what his campaign strategy is though.

    <h2>I have to wonder if he really can convince enough people to sign his petition. There is also the issue of the number of vaild signatures. I'd think his campaign (internally at least) has set the number of sigatures they need to get a little higher so that they can make sure they qualify.</h2>

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