Thanks the expert, Richard Winger:
The subject of Trump getting on ballots outside the major parties is complicated.
The Republican Party convention starts July 18 and is supposed to end July 21, although it is possible the convention won’t finish in time and must extend itself.
If Trump does nothing to get himself on the November ballot outside the Republican Party until July 21, he would have already missed these petition deadlines: Georgia (July 12), Illinois (June 27), Indiana (June 30), Michigan (July 21), Missouri (July 25), New Mexico (June 30), North Carolina (June 9), Oklahoma (July 15), South Carolina (July 15), Texas (May 9 for an independent presidential candidate, May 23 for a new party). States not named above have August or September deadlines, for at least one method to get on the ballot (indp or new party).
Also Washington state is July 23 but only requires 1,000 signatures so fast action could get that one after the Rep convention ends, but a notice must be run in a newspaper ahead of time.But there is hope even for those 10 states, because in 1983 the US Supreme Court ruled that early petition deadlines for presidential candidates are unconstitutional.
Five states have had their June petition deadlines struck down. It is likely Texas (May) and the four states in June have deadlines that could be overcome in court. There are even two court cases invalidating early August.
Texas would be especially hard-pressed to defend its presidential deadlines, because Texas deadline for independent candidates for office other than president is June 23.
So it makes no sense at all to have presidential deadlines in May. The US Supreme Court said presidential ballot access must be easier for president than for other office, and Texas has it backwards.
Also, Trump is free now to be circulating petitions to get the Reform Party on the ballot in any states he wishes.
In 39 of the 50 states, a petition to get a new party on the ballot need not include the names of any candidates. It is just a petition to qualify the party.
The Reform Party would be the best vehicle for him because it is fairly respectable, and because everyone I know who was ever in the Reform Party loves Trump.
The Reform Party is only on the ballot now in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, but Trump could be financing petition drives to get it on the ballot in more states, without having to commit himself.
Also there are many one-state qualified parties that would probably nominate Trump: Alaskan Independence Party, American Independent (California), Independent Party (Delaware), Independent Party (Florida), Independence Party (Florida), Independent Party (Hawaii), Natural Law Party (Michigan), Independent American Party (New Mexico), Independence Party (New York), Independent Party (Oregon), maybe the Moderate Party of Rhode Island, American Party (South Carolina), Independence Party (South Carolina), Independent American Party (Utah).
Petition drives take time, but they can be done in a big hurry with enough money. The Green Party petition to get on in Texas was completed in only two weeks in 2010. A very wealthy man paid for the drive. Christina Tobin did it. It cost $600,000 because it was a last-minute affair. Also the Reform Party registration drive in California in 1995 got the needed 89,007 registrants in just three weeks.
As to sore loser laws, see the Sep. 1 2015, print Ballot Access News on precedents from almost all states saying they don’t apply to presidential primaries.
And if states still try to enforce them, I believe they could be overturned in court under the US Supreme Court 1995 opinion US Term Limits v Thornton, which said states can’t add to the qualifications for federal office.
Although petition requirements can’t be overturned under that theory, sore loser laws can be overturned under that theory.
Petition requirements aren’t personal to any candidate; other people can petition for him or her. But a sore loser law stands in the way of putting a candidate on the ballot based on the candidate’s personal behavior in the past (running in pres primaries), and states can’t do that.
Four US Court of Appeals have ruled that states can’t require candidates for federal office to be registered voters, for example. It is true that in 1974, Storer v Brown said sore loser laws aren’t subject to invalidation under the qualifications argument, but that was before the US Supreme Court had even determined that states can’t add to the constitutional qualifications; that only happened in 1995.
That may be the greatest legacy of the congressional term limits movement, getting that decision.
Richard Winger 415-922-9779 PO, Box 470296, San Francisco Ca 94147. (Thanks also to Eric Garris)