Politics The 36th District Keeps on Giving
posted by October 14 at 17:46 PMon
I’ll be too busy wrapping up this year’s general-election endorsements to make it to tonight’s 36th District Democrats debate, but if you’re in the neighborhood, you might want to stop by for the fireworks. (The meetings starts at 7 p.m. at 3003 NW 66th St.) Reuven Carlyle and John Burbank, the two Democrats who are vying to fill the state House seat being vacated by Helen Sommers, are embroiled in a testy debate over the language on the Democrats’ sample ballots (yes, I’m serious). According to a frantic email sent out by district chair Peter House last night, the ballots were supposed to note only that Burbank was the district’s “endorsed” candidate for the state house seat. (Observant readers will recall that after the district declined to pick an “official” nominee, state Democratic chairman Dwight Pelz stepped in and picked one himself; subsequently, Burbank received an endorsement, which is different from a nomination, from the district’s membership). Instead, the ballots—written by Carlyle supporter (and district vice-chair) Janis Travenóread as follows: “This is our first election under the Top Two Primary system: Two Democrats face off in the General Election. Democrat Reuven Carlyle won the August Primary by over 1200 votes. In September, 134 members of our District organization voted to endorse John Burbank.”
In his email to 36th District members, House wrote:
The entry on the Sample Ballot goes on to list Reuven Carlyle even though he was not endorsed. In no other race where we made an endorsement was a non-endorsed candidate listed. In my judgment the Sample Ballot did not represent the will of the membership. The message at the top of the ballot comes from me implying that I have approved the ballot which I had not. I therefore took measures to correct the sample ballot. I called John Burbank and his campaign manager and asked them to come to the church. I needed help, and I knew that John, as our endorsed candidate, would be very interested in making sure the ballot was correct. I instructed John to remove the incorrect ballots from the church. I further asked John to help me get new ballots printed with the correct information. John called Service Printing and arranged to have new ballots printed. The new ballots were promised for Saturday morning, October 11.
One thing House didn’t mention in his email is that he is a supporter of John Burbank—giving him as much incentive, in theory, to remove the offending information as Traven had for including it. Although Traven says she intended only to make the new primary procedures clear to district members (previously, two Democrats would never oppose each other on a general-election ballot, because only one Democrat ever made it through the primary), Burbank supporters believe the language was intended to make members question which candidate the district actually supported. In any case, the ballot on the 36th District web site still includes information about both Burbank and Carlyle.
UPDATE: A commenter says the ballot has been changed. Here’s a link
to the one that was up last night.