Sheriff Watch: Politics of Ballot Designations Results in a Challenge to Duffy

Barry Jantz Barry Jantz 5 Comments

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From today’s Sunday San Diego at the FlashReport…

The first competitive San Diego County Sheriff’s race since 1994 enters its primary leg with three hopefuls to appear on the ballot. As well, a challenge has been filed over one candidate’s chosen ballot description.

The pool of anticipated competitors narrowed from four on Friday, when perennial candidate Bruce Ruff dropped his bid in passive fashion, simply not filing any nominating paperwork by the deadline after he campaigned for several months.

The three remaining candidates each have law enforcement experience.  Obviously, they want to tout their respective backgrounds.  Thus, their chosen ballot designations…

Jim Duffy – San Diego County Sheriff Lieutenant

Bill Gore – San Diego County Sheriff, Appointed

Jay La Suer – Retired Undersheriff, San Diego

Watchers of these types of things (hacks like me) know the general rules for this all important designation (the last and sometimes only thing many voters will truly note about each candidate prior to voting)…

-Three words max, unless it’s the official title of the elective office, then it can be longer.

-If an appointed incumbent refers to the title of the office, then “Appointed” must also be used.

-Official titles of geographic locations/government agencies are counted as one word, such as “San Diego” and “San Diego County.”

So, all of the three indicated above fly as far as the word count.  Gore appropriately refers to himself as appointed, while still packing it all into three words.

Yet, a challenge to the use of “San Diego County Sheriff Lieutenant” was filed with the County Registrar of Voters regarding Jim Duffy’s candidacy. Dominic Nguyen of La Mesa says that Duffy has not served in that capacity “since March 2008, when he took a leave of absence from the Sheriff’s Department to take the position of Chief of Staff to San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts…until August 2009, when he resigned from Supervisor Robert’s office to campaign full time for the…Sheriff’s race.”

Nguyen — or whoever coordinated the challenge with him — appears to have been ready, as the three-and-a-half page letter (attached) along with exhibits is dated March 5, one week prior to the candidate filing deadline.  He requests that the Registrar conduct an investigation to determine Duffy’s allowable ballot designation.

I asked Duffy yesterday if my understanding is correct, that when he went to work for Roberts he took an unpaid leave of absence from the Sheriff’s department, which continues while he campaigns, and thus he believes he is within his rights to use “San Diego County Sheriff Lieutenant.”  Duffy confirmed as much, with his campaign producing a March 11 letter from the County of San Diego’s Human Services Department (attached), indicating that he “has been continuously employed…since…1986,” and that he is “currently on Leave of Absence Without Pay – With Right to Return in classification “5780, Sheriff’s Lieutenant.”

While consultants and campaign folks fester over the outcome of this mini-battle, common sense tells me to take it out of the realm of the political for a minute.  If a school teacher takes a leave of absence, even a lengthy one, would that person still be described as a school teacher?

I know, those obviously much smarter than I will say that in this case, it’s way too complicated for such simplistic analogies.

Voters will likely know nothing of this intrigue, only what they see on the ballot describing the candidates.  Obviously, not always the simplest of determinations.

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Comments 5

  1. Will the Real Mason Weaver Please Stand Up?

    In light of the recent inquiry challenging Jim Duffy’s occupational title of his employment for the June Primary ballot, I thought the Rostra readers might be able to provide some insight and suggestion to the use of a false name in the campaign of Clarence Mason “Weaver” for Congress.

    For those willing to go through the painstaking practice of viewing his website, you’ll notice he has mimicked Barack Obama in creating a “rumors section,” wherin he details the attacks against him for having used so many names. Clarence makes the case that while he does business under the name of “Mason Weaver”, the name he conducts contractual business and identification under is that of his legal name, Clarence Mason.

    Why then has he chosen to violate the trust of the voters, along with California and Federal Election laws, to both register as a candidate on at least two occasions under two different false names? E.g., Tony Mason, C. Mason Weaver & Clarence Mason Weaver. Will the real man please stand up and come forward?

    With documentation provided by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Clarence has been registered to vote under the name of Clarence Anthony Mason since 2004. Now while not as bad as registering as Micky Mouse or Bozo the Clown, Clarence has still violated the very letter and spirit of the law. For all we know, he could also be voting voting under the name of Clarence Mason, back in his past home town of Oceanside.

    In both his 2010 Campaign for Congress and his failed 2000 Campaign for State Assembly, Clarence also ran as a candidate under the false name of C. Mason Weaver. It’s an obvious attempt to re-brand his name and history, permitting the voters to know only the history he has written and depicted in his 4 little known books, which he still carries around in a suitcase with him to most events.

    As noted in the brief blog about Jim Duffy, challenging the legitimacy of a candidate’s filing details can be costly. That is why several voters and at least a couple of his opponents have made mention of this issue, politely educating Clarence on his legal violations and responsibilities. When at least one of these opponents asked Clarence to clear these issues up with the Registrar of Voters, the California Secretary of State and the Federal Election Commission prior to the March 12th deadline, Clarence Mason refused.

    What do you think should happen? Ought one of his opponents file a challenge in court? Or should Clarence Mason be willing to apologize for his mistakes and contact the Registrar of Voters to make this correction and run under his legal name, Clarence Mason?

  2. Is a candidate using a false name to post a comment about the evils of candidates using false names an example of irony?

  3. Greg, I am not trying to in-Crimmins-ate anyone. But just out of curiosity…can they throw someone off of the Central Committee twice?

  4. The real question is why our Registrar doesn’t cross-check candidate filings against voter registrations. Anyone whose name does not match up should be checked out more closely.

    If the voter registration is the legal name, the candidate should be required to change the candidate listing to that.

    If the voter registration is also found to be fraudulent (ie a fake name) then the candidate should not be allowed to run.

    If a candidate has changed their legal name, then they should be required to also change their voter registration so that it matches the candidate filing name.

    If there is not a law clearly requiring something along this line, then one should be passed before future elections.

    Our registrar DOES have at least some power to require truth in candidate statements, for instance they require teachers to provide proof that they are currently teaching and certifed in CA.

    It should not be the responsibility of candidates to rat out their opponents — our public officials should be doing their homework to verify accuracy. What’s to stop a Megan’s law sex offender from running under a fake name?

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