By J. Austin Gaylord
Arizona is having a big year in the national media.
Since the passing of SB1070, news outlets seem to have developed an insatiable appetite for the state’s wacky antics, and Arizonans have been very obliging. With desert beheadings, federal investigations, prison escapees and a legislative war against the Fourteenth Amendment, Arizona is about as overexposed as Sarah Palin.
So it’s hardly surprising that this year’s primary elections have thrust Arizona back into the national spotlight – and not just for Senator John McCain’s easy victory over a hyped-up “Tea Party” opponent. For once, the Arizona Green Party is the one causing a ruckus.
When the primary results came in, it appeared that the “Greens” had fielded an unusually large number of candidates. But it wasn’t long before the party denounced fourteen of its twenty-two candidates as “shams.”
As it turns out, none of these fourteen party-unapproved candidates is very Green at all. At least twelve of the impostors registered as greens within a month and a half of the candidacy filing deadline; several registered as party members the same day they registered to run.
It wasn’t long before the New York Times brought this whole sordid affair to the nation’s attention. Soon after the election, a Times reporter discovered that these candidates weren’t just phonies, they were Republican-recruited phonies, set up to burn liberal votes in competitive elections. And as if that weren’t juicy enough, the Times revealed that four of them, including a candidate for State Treasurer, were homeless.
Arizona Republicans have hardly bothered to hide their involvement. Former State Representative and current Republican candidate Steve May takes full credit for recruiting the homeless men. Former Speaker of the House and current District 10 House candidate Jim Weiers admits talking to Christopher Campbell about his candidacy for the District 10 Senate seat. Campbell switched from Red to Green the same day he filed his candidacy. Campbell also happens to be roommates with Weiers’ daughter.
The bulletproof case for Republican involvement is made nicely at TruthAZ.com. On the site, you can hear several candidates admit their nefarious motives on tape, and listen to Corporation Commission candidate Benjamin Pearcy talk about his life in juvenile detention.
The Green Party filed suit in both state and federal courts, challenging the lax election law that allows third-party write-on candidates to make the ballot with a single vote, otherwise known as Arizona Revised Statute §16-645 section (D).[viii] According to the Greens, this statute violates their right to associate with candidates who share their views. The State Court disqualified a few candidates, but their names have already been printed. Considering that the point of the scam was to crowd the ballot, it’s a small victory indeed.
It’s too bad that these aren’t real candidates. Because while the last thing this state needs is regular people prostituting themselves for the entrenched political establishment, it may be that the first thing we need is more third-party candidates – homeless or not.
The Republican and Democratic parties are both failing Arizona. As recently reported in the Arizona Republic, there are twenty-two state-level elections with candidates from only one major party. If Republicans and Democrats can’t be bothered to run, someone else should step up to the plate.
Of course, both parties take refuge behind the cop-out that some elections “aren’t competitive.” But an election isn’t just about the winner. A serious opposition campaign can bring neglected issues to the public eye, and give voice to the otherwise unrepresented.
As the beneficiaries of an exclusive two-party system, Republicans and Democrats take on a duty to represent the People. Both parties have neglected this responsibility.
Arizona desperately needs more serious third-party and independent candidates. But not these cronies.
 See Arizona Green Party, Statement from the Arizona Green Party, (September 7, 2010) .
 See Michael Trauscht, Sham Green Candidates, (2010), .
 See Marc Lacey, Republican Runs Street People on Green Ticket, N.Y. Times, September 6, 2010, at A1, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/us/politics/07candidates.html.
 See Id.
 See Id.
 See Dianna Nanez, GOP Candidate Steve May Drops out of District 17 House Race, Arizona Republic, September 14, 2010, available at .
 See Truth AZ, .
 Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §16-645 (LexisNexis 2010) stating that (“Except as provided in subsection C of this section, a certificate of nomination shall not be issued to a write-in candidate of a party which has not qualified for continued representation on the official ballot pursuant to § 16-804 unless he receives a plurality of the votes of the party for the office for which he is a candidate”).
 See Associated Press, Judge Allows Contested Green Party Nominees, N.Y. Times, September 14, 2010, at A18, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/us/politics/15green.html; See also Mary Jo Pitzl, Judge 2: Green Party Candidates Are Not ‘Shams,’ Arizona Republic, September 14, 2010, available at http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2010/09/14/20100914arizona-county-judge-allows-green-candidates.html>.
 See Mary Jo Pitzl, 22 Arizona Legislature Candidates Run Unopposed, Arizona Republic, September 4, 2010, available at http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2010/09/04/20100904arizona-legislature-candidates-unopposed-2010.html.