When in Doubt, Cheat


If you can count on anything, it's Republicans and Democrats protecting the integrity of our electoral system. First, you've got the Republicans in Connecticut. They never stood a chance of winning the state's U.S. Senate seat this year with candidate Alan Schlesinger, who polled far behind both Sen. Joe Lieberman and liberal Ned Lamont. The solution: Scare him off the ballot and replace him with a Republican who could steal a three-way race if Lieberman runs as an independent.*

A persistent government critic and former state police casino licensing commander Bradley Beecher sent emails early this week raising questions about Schlesinger. The ones that have Republicans talking are that their Senate candidate is, in casino parlance, a card counter and has used a "Wampum Card" (the Foxwood casino loyalty card that gets gamblers points for spending money) under the assumed name of "Alan Gold." Schlesinger said today that he does have a card under that name but has not used it "in this decade." The candidate, sounding agitated in a phone conversation, says he does recall being told by a casino official that he should not be playing blackjack at their facility.

This isn't a crime or a scandal by most definitions of the word. But it's giving the Republican leadership an opening to demand Schlesinger quit to be replaced by a "mogul."

In Vermont, the Democrats are trying something even stranger— spoiling their own place on the ballot to make room for an independent to win. Independent socialist Rep. Bernie Sanders is the heavy favorite to win the state's U.S. Senate seat, but an oddball assemblage of senior citizens are vying for the Democratic nomination anyway. Since Sanders has pledged to caucus with Democrats if he wins, Democrats are trying to nominate Sanders for their Senate nod… a nomination he'd turn down, leaving that spot on the ballot blank.

Both parties are gaming the system, although the Vermont Democrats' ploy is at least a little sympathetic—one of the would-be Dem candidates is the founder of the state Green party and running on an "expose the government's 9/11 conspiracy" platform. Oh, and if you're fed up with this crap, sorry: there's no Libertarian candidate in either race.

*Connecticut could have a four-way race, if eccentric anti-Bush Republican Diana Urban makes the ballot.