Saturday, August 02, 2008

Run, Alan, Run

For those who were depressed over the prospect of an election without Alan Keyes, cheer up! He found a party loony enough to nominate him. He’s running under the banner of the California wing of the American Independent Party, which is the party that endorsed segregationist George Wallace back in 1968. For the last few election cycles, the California AIP has been acting as a local branch of the Constitution Party (who passed Keyes over at their nominating convention in April). But, the Constitution Party has been showing some splinters lately.

The whole history of the various schisms and reunions of the AIP and the Constitution Party is too complicated for me to cover here (even if I understood it). The high altitude version goes something like this: The AIp was founded in California in 1967 and became a national third party as George Wallace's party after he left the Democratic Party in 1968. They never again attained that level of prominence and split in 1976 between the neo-Confederates in the South and the mere ultra-conservatives in the rest of the country. In the eighties, the California AIP affiliated with the Populist Party of Holocaust denier Willis Carto, but left after the Populists nominated David Duke in 1988. In 1992, they affiliated as the California branch of the U.S. Taxpayers Party. The U.S. Taxpayers Party became the Constitution Party in 1999.

The Constitution Party is a weird hybrid beast. In many states is has formed branches from the ground up, but in others it took on existing third parties as its official affiliates. They have never quite managed to merge all of the affiliate parties together into a single body. In 2006, nine state parties disaffiliated because the national convention didn't take a hard enough line on abortion.

This year, after failing once again to get the Republican nomination, Alan Keyes showed up at the Constitution Party convention and tried to take the nomination, but they went with someone who had actually been a member of the Party for more than one week. Keyes went off to sulk. Meanwhile, the AIP of California, which had supported Keyes had some kind of leadership crisis (I don't know many of the details) which resulted in two groups claiming to be the real AIP. One group is still affiliated with the Constitution Party and supports its candidate. The other took control of the party website and nominated Keyes as its candidate. The Keyes faction has been recognized by the California Secretary of State's office as the heir to the AIP's ballot position. Rest assured, there will be lawsuits.

This only puts Keyes on the ballot in one state and will probably result in some brawling between the Constitution Party, the California AIP, and possibly the AIP factions in other states. It promises to be great fun for third party watchers everywhere.

Update: Just in case you don't think this will be the most fun campaign of the season, consider this: Keyes' running mate is Pastor Wiley Drake. Pastor Drake is the former 2nd Vice President of the Southern Baptists and briefly gained notoriety last year when he called on his flock to pray for the deaths of various Americans United for Separation of Church and State staffers who were involved in filing an IRS complaint against him for violating the tax exempt status of his church by officially endorsing Mike Huckabee. God did not answer their prayers.

No comments: