Gordon Ackley, write-in GOP candidate for Congress, and the V.I. GOP quietly dropped its federal lawsuit demanding Ackley be placed on the November ballot in a filing Friday. [Ackley Voluntary Dismissal]
Ackley never filed a nominating petition prior to the statutory May 17 deadline for all candidates but was chosen by the V.I. GOP to be its nominee for Congress at its June 11 convention on St. Thomas.
The suit alleges V.I. voters were disenfranchised because there was no primary.
“The actions of the defendants not only have the effect of violating the rights of Mr. Ackley and the Republican Party but also cast serious doubts on the ability of defendants to hold a fair and meaningful election in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” alleged the complaint filed in District Court on St. Thomas, going on to say the Election System is violating the plaintiff’s First Amendment and voting rights.
The suit said, "May 17, 2016, was the deadline for individuals to submit nomination petitions to the Election System to have their names appear on the primary ballot for their registered political party." They argued that since the GOP nominated candidates at its convention, "there was not a necessity for individuals to submit nomination petitions."
However, May 17 was the common deadline for all candidates to file nominating papers, set by formula in V.I. statute. It is not specific to primary candidates. Those not running in political parties also had that deadline.
Ackley remains a write-in candidate. He is an official candidate but his name will not appear on the ballot.
Filing nominating papers with 25 petition signatures is most of what a party member has to do to be on the November ballot unless there are more party candidates than offices.
According to the V.I. GOP, the other V.I. GOP candidates nominated at the Republican Territorial Convention were Tim Daly, Vince Danet and Eloi George for the Legislature from the St. Thomas-St. John district; Robert Moorhead for the Legislature from the St. Croix district, Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal and Jevon Williams for the St. Croix Board of Elections, Lawrence Boschulte and Robert Max Schanfarber for the St. Thomas Board of Elections, and Marion Baptiste for the St. Croix Board of Elections.
Of those, Robert Moorhead, Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal, Jevon Williams, Lawrence Boschulte and Robert Max Schanfarber filed nomination papers prior to May 17 and are already approved to be on the General Election ballot as Republican candidates for office.
St. Croix Board of Elections incumbent candidate Glenn Webster also filed before May 17 and is also on the General Election ballot as a Republican candidate, although he is not among those selected by the party’s June convention.
Ackley, Tim Daly, Vince Danet, Eloi George and Marion Baptiste are not approved to be on the ballot.
When the suit was initially filed, the campaign sent out press statements announcing and making its case. Since dismissing the suit, campaign spokesman Dennis Lennox, formerly a controversial GOP activist in Michigan, has sent out press releases on Ackley’s behalf promising a school on St. John and giving his thoughts on Labor Day, but not on the lawsuit.
When asked for comment on the dropping of the lawsuit, Lennox sent the following statement from Ackley: "I am continuing my campaign for Congress because the Virgin Islands needs a congressman who can deliver for our island communities. Congresswoman (Stacey) Plaskett can’t even get a Transfer Day postal stamp issued.”
“We need a congressman who can work with the majority party to ensure a brighter future for the next generation of Virgin Islanders, which is why I pledge to secure federal funding for a high school on St. John," Ackley said.