Ex-Senate Candidate Makes a Federal Case of His Bid to Create Third Party

Rebuffed by the voters in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and rebuffed again by state election officials in his desire to set up a new political party and appear on the Senate ballot this fall, Jerome Segal has decided to take his case to court.

Segal, a peace activist who is proposing to set up a socialistic Bread and Roses Party, and two other plaintiffs, filed suit against the Maryland State Board of Elections in federal court in Greenbelt last week.

Jerome Segal

Segal’s aim is two-fold: He is challenging the election board’s assertion that he fell a few valid signatures short when he submitted petitions earlier this summer to create the Bread and Roses Party and have it officially recognized by the state. He is also challenging the “sore loser” rule in state election law, which would prevent him from appearing on the ballot as the Bread and Roses Senate nominee because he already ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary this year.

Segal cast the election board’s dual denials as an infringement on his free speech rights.

“The November election contest, and in particular the expected debate between the rival candidates represents a unique free speech opportunity which would be the crystallization of Dr. Segal’s life project,” the suit says. “To be deprived on this opportunity is no small loss. To be so deprived because of State statutes that serve (as we shall argue) no significant social purpose, is no small injustice.”

More important, the suit contends, the public is impacted for the worse by Segal’s failure to be included on statewide ballots. Voters would benefit from greater choices, and denying him ballot access weakens the electoral process, it says.

“There are a multitude of public interests that will indeed be furthered by placing Dr. Segal’s name on the ballot, and which will be sacrificed if he is not placed on the ballot,” the suit says.

The 25-page lawsuit concludes that Segal would win his legal challenge.

“Given that little legitimate state interest is served in keeping him off the ballot, and substantial public interest is served through his admission to the ballot, we conclude that if tried on the merits, our challenge would prevail,” it says.

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Josh Kurtz
Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.


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