What Is A Candidate?

Pat Paulson   I’m not sure why, but I have been hearing a lot of people ask the same question this election cycle, “are they an official candidate?”   Maybe it’s because of the Donald Trump effect on the political process, after all he has done one thing for sure, he has brought people into the process who have never followed politics before, and who have no idea about the rules, or the process in general.

With the likelihood of there being a contested convention for the GOP still in question, many of the Trump supporters are confused about the rules of the Party. First off, they have no idea there are no laws governing how a party chooses its candidates. There is no law which mandates a political party to even hold a convention. I have heard Trump supporters actually say, it is an illegal act for the Republican Party to “cheat” Trump out of his nomination.

They actually think they are voting for Trump, when they vote in the primary, because they don’t realize they are actually voting for delegates to go to the convention, and once there, the delegates operate under the rules set forth by the party.

Of course it doesn’t help that Trump is pandering to the uninformed.

On a more local level, I recently attended a political function in the 11th Representative District, and prior to the candidate forum taking place, the Vice-Chair of the Delaware State GOP Committee, John Foltz was forced to explain to the audience about who was eligible to speak, in other words, what constituted a candidate?

Mr. Foltz was forced to do this, because certain candidates at the forum had challenged the appropriateness of other candidates being included. And what was this based on? Well it seems, someone thought, because certain candidates hadn’t yet paid their filing fees, then they shouldn’t be allowed to speak at Party sponsored forums.

Why would one candidate do this to another? I’ll answer that in a bit.

So what makes you a candidate? Well here in Delaware, once you register a political committee with the state Department of Elections, you are eligible to begin speaking as a candidate, raising funds as a candidate, and spending money on a campaign, as a candidate.

Now, some seem to think you are not an official candidate, until you pay your party filing fees. This is not the case. Once you create a committee, you are a candidate. So what motivates people to challenge a person’s ability to speak to other party members, and the voters?

Well I have noticed, it usually comes from weak candidates and their supporters. They fear having to debate in the arena of ideas, where they may fall short. Often these are the same people who rush to announce their candidacy as early as possible, so as to be “first”. They believe if they are first to announce, then all others are somehow spoilers.

There is a filing deadline, which means, candidates have until that time to pay their fees. There is no prohibition against them doing all the same things which other candidates, who were foolish enough to pay the fees early do.

As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “do you pay your electric bill six months in advance?”

I have seen the question of legitimacy of a candidate being asked in social media. No big deal, except it was asked by a member of the Sussex County GOP Executive Committee. If that is not the perfect demonstration of how irrelative and uninformed that organization is, well what more can I say?

Now this brings me to one other point. I have long pointed out the financial troubles of the Sussex GOP. They were barely able to pay the electric bill and rent for the “Headquarters” in Georgetown. We watched for months as the funds dwindled.  The question was whether they could hold out until candidates began paying their filing fees. Unfortunately, some candidates felt the need to be first, to make themselves seem more legit , and in other cases, they actually wanted to prop up that failing organization, and paid their fees.

Now, it is hard to say just how much money the Sussex GOP actually has at this time, since the last two months the Committee was without an official Treasurer, and the Chairman Billy Carroll was acting Treasurer, and his Treasurer’s report were oral, not written, with no hard numbers to hang your hat on. But considering previous reports, and the amount of money being spent on a monthly basis, one could conclude, the banked money was gone, and so the Sussex GOP is likely living on the filing fees.

One small problem, those filing fees are not necessarily the money of the Sussex GOP as of yet. You see, the deadline for paying those fees has not yet arrived, which means, if a candidate chose to remove their name from consideration, the Sussex GOP would have to return the money.

Now while it may be unlikely enough candidates would ask for their money back, to cause a problem, there is a perception problem here. And without official written Treasurer reports, no one knows who is spending what. We are coming up on the convention this weekend, and it would be interesting to know what is being paid for by the Sussex GOP, especially since it is being held in Sussex this year.

Those checks are  traditionally held  in a drawer until the deadline has passed, just as procedure. But of course, a drowning person will reach for anything to stay afloat.



One Comment on "What Is A Candidate?"

  1. fightingbluehen says:

    The establishment should realize that being part of something is better than controlling all of nothing, which is what they will have if they try to game the primary selection process.

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