Angela Pence, after finding that she was not able to support Donald Trump for President or Hillary Clinton for President in 2016, (no relationThe former vice president began to look beyond the boundaries of Republican and Democratic politics. This led to her joining the Libertarian Party. She began volunteering in 2020 for Jo Jorgensen’s election campaign, and served as the political director of Georgia L.P.
Pence decided that she would run against Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene for the seat of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Greene is a kook who has spread outlandish conspiracies, from defending QAnon to suggesting the California wildfires could have been caused intentionally by lasers coming from outer space. Greene spoke at the white nationalist conference last month. It would appear that there is plenty of space for a rival.
Pence has to overcome another obstacle before she can appeal to voters. Georgia’s ballot access laws must be complied with.
Georgia laws can be quite complex. A candidate must gather the signatures 5 percent of eligible voters to qualify for the Georgia ballot for a race for a Districted Position. All registered voters in their district—for the U.S. House, that means between 20,000 and 25,000 signatures. Because they were on the previous ballot, two of the major parties are exempted from the rule.
In 1943, the law was first passed. At that time, communists were not allowed to run for office. It is not surprising that no third-party candidate for any district in Georgia has been on the ballot since 1943. The Georgia L.P. challenged the 5-percent rule. A district court overturned it and created a new rule that only required signatures of one percent of registered voters. However, this requirement was restored by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in January.
Ryan Graham is the chairperson of Georgia L.P. There are reasonsPence says that because the party has to have a high number of signatures, it is unable to recruit for the local race races. This will allow the party to gain experience in politics and possibly move on to higher office. Pence said After the 5 percent rule was reinstated by the appeals court, Georgia L.P. candidates dropped out. They cited the difficulties in getting enough signatures.
Greene was blessed with some luck in her first run for Congress. After originally intending to contest the 6th Congressional District seat, the incumbent for the 14th Congressional District retired and Greene became the first person to register to run. Although the entire state was lost, Trump’s victory in GA-14 was nearly 50 percent. Greene is more likely to be drawn to a less-competitive district. And Greene’s Democratic opponent, Kevin Van Ausdal, moved out of state during the campaign but stayed on the ballot, allowing her to run functionally unopposed.
Georgia’s ballot accessibility laws now perform a similar function. While it is possible that Greene could lose to a Republican primary challenger—and she faces several—Greene coasted to victory in the 2016 primary and took in an impressive amount of individual campaign contributions, even after already receiving criticism for anti-Semitic and Islamophobic comments. A skewed electorate that is so strongly to the left makes it difficult for any Democratic candidate to win, particularly against an incumbent who has national recognition. This is what Pence knows. She says that a Democrat will never win in this area, but she is optimistic that Republican voters who are disillusioned with Greene, but not willing to vote for Democrat ever, will be drawn to her positions.
To get there, however, she must jump through hurdles that neither Greene or her eventual Democratic opponent have to face. Ultimately, this unfairness impacts more than just libertarians: In Georgia, any potential alternative parties—the Green Party, the Constitution Party, Democratic Socialists of America, the still-extant Prohibition Party—face the same seemingly insurmountable task just to qualify. It is much harder for someone who has been a fringe candidate and sits in Greene’s safe seat to meet a serious opponent.