Sundwall Thrown Off Congressional Ballot

The State Board of Elections has voted to disqualify the Libertarian Party candidate for the 20th Congressional District, Eric Sundwall, from the election, just a week from the election. They did so after an investigation found four thousand of his ballot access signatures invalid.

Here’s an excerpt:

ALBANY — The state Board of Elections voted today to disqualify the Libertarian Party candidate in race for the vacant 20th congressional district, less than a week before Tuesday’s special election.

The board removed Libertarian Eric Sundwall of Niverville, Columbia County, after an investigation determined nearly 4,000 of his petition signatures were invalid. He was left with 2,944 valid voter signatures, short of the 3,500 needed to be on the ballot.

Sundwall was considered a long shot in a contentious race between major-party candidates Jim Tedisco of Schenectady, Republican leader in the state Assembly, and entrepreneur Scott Murphy of Glens Falls, Warren County, a Democrat. Tedisco appears on the GOP and Conservative Party lines, and Murphy will be on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families party lines.

The candidates are vying for the seat left empty when Gov. David Paterson appointed then-U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand as a U.S. senator. Hillary Clinton had vacated that office to become President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Gillibrand’s office has been vacant since Jan. 27.

You can read the full article here.

50 thoughts on “Sundwall Thrown Off Congressional Ballot

  1. Morris Guller

    The arcane, outdated, and outrageous New York Election Laws have to change.

    Under the current laws, third party and independent candidates for public office have to bear a far greater burden than do the candidates of the two major parties in attaining ballot access.

    Year after year, cycle after cycle, the voters are denied the opportunity to vote for some of the best candidates because they are not members of the two major parties in New York.

    These types of “laws” are common in third world nations where candidate suppression runs parallel to voter suppression. But in New York? Why?

    Example: Running for Congress – Major party candidates have to gather 1,250 signatures from their party members. Third party or Independent candidates have to get 3,500 and most often they are challenged and thrown out.

    I was one of the fortunate independents who made it onto the ballot in 2004 after my party petitions for the Democratic party were challenged. I know the system is rigged and so does everyone who runs, everyone who challenges, and everyone who throws candidates off the ballot.

    Eric Sundwall submitted over 7,000 signatures to be on the ballot in the upcoming Special Election on March 31st . Using arcane and little know regulations the powers that be were able to squeeze out over 4,000 of those signatures.

    How outrageous is it to tell over 4,000 people that their signature don’t count and they stand for nothing?

    The Assembly and Senate must review and reform these laws that, in fact, work against the good of the people of our state.

    Morris Guller
    Lexington, New York

  2. Mik Robertson

    This is similar to quite a few states, including Pennsylvania. I know in Pennsylvania they check upon submittal to make sure there are at least the minimum required number to file. I recall that Illinois has similar laws but no one checks unless there is a challenge, so I think it was last year a Constitution Party candidate got on the ballot with a few hundred signatures when thousands were needed.

    A fair question is “What are they afraid of?” I hope Eric Sundwall can get a lot of mileage out of this.

  3. Gary Julian

    I firmly believe we are no longer a free country. The so-called “elections” are just bidding wars by Billionaire Cartels of Corporations and Unions.

    The Founding Fathers would not know this country today.

  4. Richard Cooper

    Winger 7: It is over. We will not pursue this further.

    D. Eris 2: In special elections, the established parties (Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Independence) do not have to submit any signatures.

    1250 or 5% of the enrolled members of the party whichever is less for the established parties is the norm to be in the primary. All of those signatures have to be enrolled members.

    We needed 3500 in 12 days for the special election instead of the usual six weeks.

    Richard Cooper, Campaign Manager
    Elect Eric Sundwall

  5. Morgan Brykein Post author

    Mr. Cooper,

    Please tell Sundwall that I wish him the best. I was really hoping that he would become, maybe, the first Libertarian Senator. The people in power will always try to supress threats however they can.

  6. Rocky Eades

    Will the Sundwall campaign be contacting the 4000 peoples who have illegal namesl and sharing the outrage? That would be a great outreach opportunity, I would think.

  7. Steven R Linnabary

    Morgan, I am outraged.

    But the Eric Sundwall campaign can have some fun with this. Why not organize an “election boycott”?

    What difference does it make which pro war, pro bailout candidate wins? None what so ever.

    But an election boycott is sure to win, because so few people vote in special elections.

    If New Yorkers want to be looked on as a third world banana republic, we can help them. And have fun in the process!

    PEACE

  8. Andy

    You know what is funny here is that I emailed Eric Sundwall three times about his petition drive. I asked him some questions about the drive, I offered some advice, and I offered to come in and work on it if he could fly me in and get me a rental car (which I was willing to share with another person). Guess what? Sundwall NEVER responded to my messages. Well, ignore a ballot access expert like myself at your own peril.

    He must have thought, “Free and Equal,” that’s a fancy name so I’ll just go with them. All “Free and Equal” did was send in a collection of mercenaries and/or people who worked on Ralph Nader petition drives. I don’t think that there was even one actual Libertarian petitioner (and by Libertarian petitioner, I mean a real Libertarian who also works as a petitioner) on that drive. So it should be no suprise that he failed.

    I think that the disgraced former LP Political Director Sean Haugh may have had something to do with this as well. I spoke to Al Anders (a long time Libertarian petitioner who is currently in Massachusetts) and Al called Eric Sundwall and inquired about going to New York to work on the drive. Al said that Sundwall either refered him to Sean Haugh or refered him to Christina Tobin who refered him to Sean Haugh. When Al spoke to Sean Haugh, Al said that Sean told him that they didn’t need anyone else on the drive. Al said that he responded wtih something like, “But Sean, I’ve been a Libertarian Party member since 1980 and I’ve worked on Libertarian Party ballot access drives in 33 states since the 1980s.” Al said that Sean replied by saying, “Al, don’t play that Libertarian card with me.” So in other words, don’t hire any actual Libertarians to work on a Libertarian Party ballot access drive, just hire mercenaries. Well, look at the results that this produced.

  9. Robert Capozzi

    Andy, have you ever considered that all your kissing and telling about the minutiae of your grievances about prior petition drives makes you toxic? I’d probably not hire you even if you were the greatest petitioner of all time.

    Too risky.

    Consider chillin’.

  10. Andy

    “Robert Capozzi // Mar 26, 2009 at 6:13 am

    Andy, have you ever considered that all your kissing and telling about the minutiae of your grievances about prior petition drives makes you toxic? I’d probably not hire you even if you were the greatest petitioner of all time.

    Too risky.

    Consider chillin’.”

    What “kissing & telling” are you talking about? The only stuff that I’ve mentioned on blogs was about being ripped off & screwed over by Scott Kohlhaas in 2006 (which is well documented, see the LNC meeting minutes from July of 2007 here: http://www.lp.org/archives/lnc20070721.pdf – scroll down to pages 14 & 15 for more details)and by Sean Haugh (who caused the LP to fail to get on the ballot in several states). We are talking like 2 things that occurred over a period of 8 1/2 years. The majority of the expierences that I’ve had have either never been mentioned on blogs or have been mentioned or refered to in a positive light.

    There is nothing that makes me “toxic,” that’s a completely absurd statement and shows that you don’t know about which you are speaking.

    I’d be curious to know how much donor money was blown on the Sundwall drive. Are you telling me that you’d prefer to fail on a petition drive – thus wasting thousands of dollars in donor’s money – than succeed? If so, that’s pretty foolish, highly unprofessional, and takes a very cavalier attitude with donor’s money.

    Also, why was Al Anders told not to come in from Massachusetts when Massachusetts is not that far from New York? Couldn’t they have used an extra hand?

  11. paulie

    But the Eric Sundwall campaign can have some fun with this. Why not organize an “election boycott”?

    Good idea.

  12. Andy

    The money that was blown on the Sundwall campaign would have been better spent elsewhere, such as to get ballot access going in a state where you can start early. One such state is Alabama. The money that was spent on the Sundwall campaign could have been used to qualify a bunch of candidates (some of whom probably could be in races where there’s only one major party candidate) for the ballot in Alabama.

    If you want to see your donations go to something that can actually be achieved, I urge donate today.

    http://www.al.lp.org/pages/contribute

  13. ProfessionalPetitioner

    How can any Libertarian ballot access campaign come in below 50% validity like this?

    The LP is failing at ballot access. It used to be our strong suit. What’s going on?

    Whoever is managing all these failed petition drives: West Virginia, Washington DC, Connecticut, Maine and the failed paperwork in Louisiana, all for Barr, and now this disaster in New York …

    whoever is managing these failed drives, which should succeed easily …

    SHOULD

    BE

    FIRED

    IMMEDIATELY

    and never allowed to work for the LP again.

  14. libertariangirl

    poor Eric , this one really sucks .
    50% validity is low , but didnt they check an unprecedented %tage of the signitures which is almost unheard of?

  15. Thomas L. Knapp

    “The money that was blown on the Sundwall campaign would have been better spent elsewhere”

    Maybe, maybe not. Everyone’s money is theirs to spend they way they want to spend it, and I think I got a good return on investment for the ten bucks I sent Eric’s campaign.

    He got decent media and a decent amount of it. He got debate inclusion. His removal from the ballot is generating further press and productive discussion/debate. And all of it took place during a time period when we wouldn’t usually expect it to.

  16. paulie

    Andy:

    I urge donate today.

    http://www.al.lp.org/pages/contribute

    Tom:

    I think I got a good return on investment for the ten bucks I sent Eric’s campaign.

    He got decent media and a decent amount of it. He got debate inclusion. His removal from the ballot is generating further press and productive discussion/debate. And all of it took place during a time period when we wouldn’t usually expect it to.

    Paul: You’re both correct.

  17. Andy

    Tom Knapp said: “Maybe, maybe not. Everyone’s money is theirs to spend they way they want to spend it, and I think I got a good return on investment for the ten bucks I sent Eric’s campaign.

    He got decent media and a decent amount of it. He got debate inclusion. His removal from the ballot is generating further press and productive discussion/debate. And all of it took place during a time period when we wouldn’t usually expect it to.”

    Yes, I realize that donors can send their donations as they see fit, and yes, Sundwall did get some media which is good. I’m just raising the serious question as to whether or not the money spent was worth it as it could have been used elsewhere.

    As I said, the money that was spent on the Sundwall campaign could have been used to qualify a bunch of candidates for the ballot in Alabama, and it could have gone a long way towards the Libertarian Party having full party status in Alabama. The money spent on the Sundwall campaign could have gone to completely requalify the Libertarian Party in New Mexico or South Dakota.

    It seems to me that the fact that Sundwall did not qualify for the ballot means that the money would have been put to better use elsewhere.

  18. Thomas L. Knapp

    Paulie,

    Yes, Andy’s correct that the Alabama LP and other ballot access efforts are worth supporting. Didn’t mean to come off as negative on that.

    As far as Eric’s campaign is concerned, I’m going to double down on my opinion that it was a good investment.

    1) Since it’s a special election outside the usual cycle, Eric’s campaign benefited from better-than-usual media coverage (cynical version: There weren’t a bunch of other elections to write about, so the coverage expanded more into the third party side to fill column inches).

    2) Within the context of the expanded media coverage, Eric did a good job of positioning the LP as “the real alternative” to the Bailout UniParty, which helps us overall.

    3) By getting himself into a debate with one of his major party opponents, he positioned the LP as a “real party” at the non-participating candidate’s party’s expense.

    4) The ballot bounce made the establishment look bad. It made the major parties look like they’re afraid of us. It made us look like the underdog who’s losing not because our ideas aren’t better, but because The Man’s keeping us down.

    5) Because it was a special election, Eric had to get a campaign together and get it functional, fast. And he did — there were press releases, interviews, etc., the stuff a campaign needs to do. Those campaign team members will be better campaigners in the future for the experience. Now that they’ve done some of this stuff under the harder circumstances, they’ll do it even better in “normal” campaign cycles.

    I doubt that anyone, Eric included, expected that he’d win the election. But they made some damn good lemonade out of sourer than usual lemons.

  19. Thomas L. Knapp

    Andy,

    I’m an Austrian (by economic inclination, not nationality). I consider value to be subjective.

    Even assuming that I only had $10 to put into any and all political projects total, “better use” of that $10 is entirely a matter of opinion, and the opinion that counts is the opinion of the person spending the $10.

    Nothing against major party status for Alabama, or requalifying New Mexico or South Dakota. I might even put some money into those projects. But my opinion, at the time I put $10 into Eric Sundwall’s campaign, was that that was the best use of that $10. My opinion hasn’t changed.

  20. Nate

    “It seems to me that the fact that Sundwall did not qualify for the ballot means that the money would have been put to better use elsewhere.”

    I disagree to a certain extent there. If the challenge had failed, noone in New York would really care about the election law. But because he was kicked off the ballot, after getting decent coverage, I think it has at least been brought to the attention of the voters in the 20th district, possibly all of New York. There is a great quote from a member of the board of elections saying this law needs to be changed. If an organized movement acts quickly, while this is still news, to get people to contact their state representatives, this law might well be changed for the better.

    Get Murphy and Tedisco on the record as saying that it was wrong to kick Sundwall off. They may not agree, but I think they know voters would not be pleased if they said this was a great thing. Act now, while both still have something to lose. Act now, while this is still a news item. Act now, while New Yorkers still care. Act now, and this hurdle might well be averted in the future.

    Would it have been nice to have Eric on the ballot? Sure. But this might well be much, much better for getting this law changed, which will have way more impact in the long term. Let’s make some lemonade, people.

  21. Nate

    Tom, I’ve had this page open for the past half hour or so, so I didn’t read your posts before sending mine. You stole my lemonade reference, damn you! 🙂 Ah well, great minds and all that.

  22. paulie

    qualify a bunch of candidates for the ballot in Alabama

    the Libertarian Party having full party status in Alabama

    completely requalify the Libertarian Party in New Mexico or South Dakota

    Great ideas!

    Let’s help make them happen.

    As far as Eric’s campaign is concerned, I’m going to double down on my opinion that it was a good investment.

    1) Since it’s a special election outside the usual cycle, Eric’s campaign benefited from better-than-usual media coverage (cynical version: There weren’t a bunch of other elections to write about, so the coverage expanded more into the third party side to fill column inches).

    2) Within the context of the expanded media coverage, Eric did a good job of positioning the LP as “the real alternative” to the Bailout UniParty, which helps us overall.

    3) By getting himself into a debate with one of his major party opponents, he positioned the LP as a “real party” at the non-participating candidate’s party’s expense.

    4) The ballot bounce made the establishment look bad. It made the major parties look like they’re afraid of us. It made us look like the underdog who’s losing not because our ideas aren’t better, but because The Man’s keeping us down.

    5) Because it was a special election, Eric had to get a campaign together and get it functional, fast. And he did — there were press releases, interviews, etc., the stuff a campaign needs to do. Those campaign team members will be better campaigners in the future for the experience. Now that they’ve done some of this stuff under the harder circumstances, they’ll do it even better in “normal” campaign cycles.

    I doubt that anyone, Eric included, expected that he’d win the election. But they made some damn good lemonade out of sourer than usual lemons.

    Good points.

    Get Murphy and Tedisco on the record as saying that it was wrong to kick Sundwall off. They may not agree, but I think they know voters would not be pleased if they said this was a great thing. Act now, while both still have something to lose. Act now, while this is still a news item. Act now, while New Yorkers still care. Act now, and this hurdle might well be averted in the future.

    Good idea.

  23. Ross Levin

    Murphy might talk about it – the Republicans are the one trying to have him thrown off, aren’t they? I think Murphy thinks he’ll benefit from having Sundwall on the ballot.

  24. robert capozzi

    andy, if you pitched for the job, then didn’t get it, it’s kissing and telling to then publicly criticize your former prospective client.

    not cool.

    why would anyone want to do business with you with such an approach.

    consider reviewing the golden rule and its implications.

  25. Steven R Linnabary

    Isn’t 200% of required signatures usually considered a safe amount to withstand challenges?

    The problem in NY is that petition signers used their mailing address rather than their voting address. In NY they are different!!

    PEACE

  26. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    I think you’re misinterpreting Andy’s statement. He’s not bemoaning the fact that he didn’t get a job, he’s saying that a job he wants to do is a better investment of Libertarian dollars than the Sundwall campaign.

  27. paulie

    I don’t think we really need to make it an either/or thing.

    The Sundwall campaign did achieve some goals. Unfortunately, they did get tossed off the ballot on technicalities, which would not normally be the case when you double the requirement. Perhaps this can be used as a basis to challenge or change the laws.

    Now, we hope that people will also help us get an early start on getting some states on the ballot.

    Why should this goal be seen as being in competition with the Sundwall campaign? There’s not a fixed amount of money that gets contributed to these things. In many cases, people who contribute to one campaign are more – not less – likely to contribute to another one.

    Andy does have some good suggestions on some other campaigns people should donate to. I hope that any perceived hostility to the Sundwall campaign does not dissuade anyone from contributing to them.

  28. robert capozzi

    Tom, based on comment 13, I’ll let my point stand.

    I’ll assume Andy knows how to conduct petition drives extremely well. He may have an excellent critique of the Sundwald effort.

    Putting his failure to attract business in the public domain, however, undermines his credibility. IMO, as always.

  29. paulie

    Robert,

    I really don’t think Andy had any serious interest in going 3,000 miles to freeze in the cold when he is already working in nice weather.

    He did inquire into the job, mostly just out of general curiosity, and felt he should have had the courtesy of a response.

    I actually did consider going in, mostly as a favor to Eric, but the weather prospects made me more than a little unenthusiastic about it. I wasn’t too disappointed that they turned me down.

    What’s done is done, but I do hope that something comes out of this to make the NY laws more reasonable, and that people contribute to us getting an early start on Alabama, South Dakota and New Mexico – the sooner the better.

  30. robert capozzi

    pc, I don’t disagree that a response would have been courteous.

    as chair (and only member) of the Rodney King Caucus, I’m always for civil discourse. some understanding would be useful here…Team Sundwall was no doubt swamped during this hasty effort. Mistakes were no doubt made.

    So, while understand Andy’s half interest in the job, I stand by initial take.

  31. Andy

    “robert capozzi // Mar 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    andy, if you pitched for the job, then didn’t get it, it’s kissing and telling to then publicly criticize your former prospective client.

    not cool.

    why would anyone want to do business with you with such an approach.

    consider reviewing the golden rule and its implications.”

    I didn’t need the job and I in fact said that when I wrote Sundwall. I was already working in a warmer state. I said that I would consider coming in IF he would fly me in and get me a rental car and put me up some place. I also could have REFERED some other people to work on the petition drive. In fact, know some expierenced petitioners who were in nearby states who could have worked on the drive but I did NOT refer them since Sundwall didn’t bother to anwser my emails.

    If Sundwall would have actually taken the time to respond to me he could be on the ballot right now.

  32. Andy

    “Putting his failure to attract business in the public domain, however, undermines his credibility. IMO, as always.”

    I’ve never put any failure to attract business in a public domain. What I put in the public domain was exposing Scott Kohlhaas as exposing Scott Kohlhaas as a liar and a crook and exposing Sean Haugh as an incompetent whackjob.

  33. Robert Capozzi

    Andy, OK. So you found Sundwall’s lack of response a “dis” and a bad move. And you’ve “exposed” Kohlhaas and Haugh as what you THINK they are.

    Now what?

    It seems you are not getting my point. You are in the petitioning business. If I were ever to need a petitioner, please explain to me why I’d ever hire you, knowing that — if we ever have a disagreement — you’ll go public with your grievances.

    Ask yourself: Why would I EVER take the risk of doing business with you? Who has the energy to deal with your apparent hostility toward former employers or prospective employers?

    You may well have a basis for your grievances. But why not keep it to yourself? Or bring it to a more appropriate (unconflicted) person?

    Whining on comment threads?

    C’mon! What good do you expect to come of this behavior?

  34. Andy

    “Robert Capozzi // Mar 27, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Andy, OK. So you found Sundwall’s lack of response a ‘dis’ and a bad move.”

    It obviously was a bad move which is evidenced by the fact that Sundwall failed to get on the ballot. If I had been there or if anyone that I could have refered had been there he’d have made it on the ballot.

    “And you’ve ‘exposed’ Kohlhaas and Haugh as what you THINK they are.”

    It is not what I “THINK” they are, it is what the facts clearly indicate that they are. Click the link for the July 2007 LNC meeting in Pittsburg to read about how Scott Kohlhaas renegged on an agreement and ripped us off for thousands of dollars.

    http://www.lp.org/archives/lnc20070721.pdf

    Sean Haugh is a mentally unstable asshole who either directly or indirectly caused the Libertarian Party to fail to get on the ballot in several states last year. He also illegally ordered the burning of 2,000 Libertarian Party ballot access petition signatures in Massachusetts last year in a petty, vindictive fit of rage (note that the signatures were checked and found to be of high validity).

  35. Andy

    “It is not what I “THINK” they are, it is what the facts clearly indicate that they are. Click the link for the July 2007 LNC meeting in Pittsburg to read about how Scott Kohlhaas renegged on an agreement and ripped us off for thousands of dollars.

    http://www.lp.org/archives/lnc20070721.pdf

    Scroll down to pages 14 & 15 to read about how Scott Kohlhaas ripped us off in Nebraska.

  36. Andy

    “Robert Capozzi // Mar 27, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Andy,

    yes, you’re still not getting it.

    learn to forgive. it’s liberating.”

    LOL! Scott Kohlhaas and Sean Haugh were the initiators in both cases. Neither of them have shown any remorse and both in fact have tried to sabotage me as well as other people whom they have screwed over.

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