You've probably already heard that John Leopold won a partial victory today in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. While his convictions on misconduct charges were upheld by the court, the Court ruled that the Judge's sentence banning Leopold from running for public office was illegal.
And I'm willing to bet that before the end of the day John Leopold's return to campaign life will begin.
Unless you have been under a rock, you know that the filing deadline for candidates to run in the Democratic or Republican primary was on February 25th. That opportunity for Leopold has sailed, unless a Republican candidate were for some reason stricken from the ballot, either by stepping down, disqualification, or by death, in a seat in which he is eligible to run for. Since there are no Republican vacancies up and down the ballot in Anne Arundel County, that avenue is closed to him.
Which is why John Leopold will run as an independent.
The qualifcations for somebody to run as an indpendent candidate by petitioning their way onto the ballot are listed on the State Board of Elections website. It involves filing a declaration of intent, having a campaign finance organization, filing the financial disclosure form, and filing the requisite number of petition signatures with the State Board of Elections by the deadline of August 4th. That number is one-percent of the registred voters who are eligible to vote for a seat or 250 signatures, whichever is greater. SBOE data shows that there are 60,794 registered voters in District 31B, for example, so in order to run for Delegate Leopold would need to gather only 608 valid signatures; a pretty low bar to clear for somebody Leopold's name identification and financial resources.
So yes, John Leopold will be on the ballot. It isn't like Leopold has any overriding loyalty to the Republican Party; he has found the Republican Party to be a useful vehicle for his selfish political ambition over the years, but he has hardly been a champion for it or the conservative causes that it represents. For those of you who may not remember, let's take a trip back into memory lane when it relates to John Leopold:
- In 1978 when he was the Republican nominee for Governor of Hawaii, Leopold demanded that he be endorsed by the Party in a primary, despite the fact that he was running unpopposed. Eventually, he dropped out of the race late in the election cycle only to drop back into it several days later;
- In 1980, Leopold was a Delegate to the Republican National Convention and sat on the Rules Committee. While there, he fought the Reagan Campaign in an effort to keep the Equal Rights Amendment as part of the GOP platform.
- Began district shopping, ending up in Pasadena when he was elected to the House of Delegates in 1982. After two terms in the House, began a bid for County Executive in 1990, and dropped a bombshell in a May 15, 1990 Sun article that says that polling shows he can't beat Republcian frontrunner Bobby Neall in a primary, but may switch to run as a Democrat.