Court fight continues for candidate booted from GOP ballot against Baird
Plus, the plot thickens downtown, with carved birds and now carved rabbits. The best baseball movies ever. An NBA read you need in your life. And prepping for the Green Expo at the fairgrounds
Thanks this morning to the historic Delphi Opera House, a new Based in Lafayette reporting project sponsor. Just 20 minutes north of Lafayette on the beautiful, pothole-free Hoosier Heartland Highway, the 200-seat Delphi Opera House presents Good Morning Bedlam in concert Friday, June 3. For ticket information, click the link below.
CANDIDATE OUSTED FROM GOP BALLOT KEEPS CHALLENGE ALIVE, ASKS COURT TO GO DIRECTLY TO APPEAL ON CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION
Charles Bookwalter, ousted by the Indiana Election Commission from the 4th District congressional ballot, couldn’t persuade a Marion County judge this spring to agree that Indiana’s ballot eligibility law was unconstitutional and to reinstate him as a candidate in the May 3 Republican primary.
His emergency stay rejected in April, Bookwalter hasn’t given up his challenge.
On Thursday, Bookwalter, a U.S. Army veteran and businessman living in Thorntown, will be back in court, asking to skip the proceedings in Marion Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ayers’ court and move straight to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
“To be clear, Bookwalter realizes he will not appear on the ballot,” his attorneys wrote in a motion filed April 27.
His attorneys, instead, argue that Ayers’ initial ruling “involves substantial and novel questions of law and early appellate resolution of his claims is appropriate for the more orderly disposition of the case.” The motion says Bookwalter “will suffer unnecessary expense if forced to continue to litigate this case in the trial court” before heading to what attorneys figure will be a certain appeal.
A response from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office ahead of Thursday’s court arguments that Bookwalter’s hope of getting on the ballot – after losing a challenge by Republican Party leaders in the 4th District and then in the judge’s initial decision that followed – “is no longer possible.” The response filed by the attorney general argues that “at this stage in the proceeding, any decision by this court regarding the constitutionality of this statute would be an impermissible advisory opinion.”
Here's how things got to this point.
Bookwalter filed to run as a Republican against U.S. Rep. Jim Baird, a Greencastle farmer running for his third term in a congressional district that includes Tippecanoe and neighboring counties. Bookwalter said in an interview that appeared here Feb. 1 that he was running because he didn’t believe Baird had done enough to stand up to “two years of tyrannical rule.”
Two party officials challenged Bookwalter’s candidacy, saying he didn’t meet state primary requirements. Bookwalter contended that Indiana law made ballot access too steep by requiring that a major party candidate must have voted in the most recent two primaries or get a waiver from the county party chair. He called the rule an effective four-year waiting period for anyone motivated from being non-political to wanting to run for office.
The Indiana Election Commission rejected Bookwalter’s defense, after he admitted that he’d voted in only one Republican primary and couldn’t get the Boone County Republican Party chair to vouch for him. State election commission members told him his beef was with the Indiana General Assembly and a law it had updated to the two-primary standard in 2021. (Bookwalter remained on the Boone County ballot as a delegate to the party’s state convention.)
Ayers did not side with Bookwalter in his last-ditch effort to get on the ballot. She ruled that Bookwalter’s lawsuit was filed too late to change ballots. The judge also ruled that Bookwalter’s claims that Indiana’s two-primary rule was unconstitutional wasn’t likely to win a legal challenge.
Ayers wrote that the “U.S. Supreme Court did not recognize an unfettered right of a person to run for election.” Ayers referenced a 1973 case, Rosario v. Rockefeller, in which the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s closed primary, one that required voters to enroll with the party of their choice at least 30 days ahead of the election, wasn’t unconstitutional. Ayers wrote that the Supreme Court “recognized the legitimate interest in inhibiting ‘party raiding,’ ‘whereby voters in sympathy with one party designate themselves as voters of another party to influence or determine the results of the other party’s primary.”
Ayers cited a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Eu v. San Francisco County Democratic Cent. Comm, that said “partisan political organizations enjoy freedom of association” under the First and 14h amendments. The Supreme Court ruled that “a political party has a right to identify the people who constitute the association … and select a standard bearer who best represents the party’s ideologies and preferences.”
The question Thursday will be whether Ayers, having already ruled that Bookwalter’s case is unlikely to win in trial court, is willing to move the challenge directly to an appeal.
This and that …
THIS JUST IN … CARVED RABBITS, NOW, IN DOWNTOWN LAFAYETTE: Earlier in the week, I shared the next chapter in the Mystery of the Carved Birds in Downtown Lafayette. (Yeah, the capital letters might be a bit much, but it fits the moment.) After a few years of carved birds left in trees, hanging like ornaments, gave way to tiny wooden birds perched on equally tiny birdhouses, the latest finds have been carved bluebirds, positioned on dowel rods and propped in the dirt of downtown flower boxes. I’m a fan – both of spotting the birds and not exactly knowing who is behind them.
After that report Monday, I heard from several people who said they started finding carved rabbits on dowels, hanging out in select flower beds on Main Street sidewalks. (During 2021, carved rabbits were spotted on window ledges and stoops outside downtown offices and shops.)
Sure, enough, there they were, including the one shown here in a big planter outside Rose Market, 816 Main St.
“I found a bluebird in my planter box last week and thought, How nice,” Tracy Deno, Rose Market owner, said. “The bluebird soon disappeared and was replaced by a carved rabbit. … I didn’t realize it was a thing downtown, so now I’m going to be on the lookout for them. I just love the whole thing, and it’s just another thing for people to look for when they come downtown.”
GREEN EXPO, THIS SUNDAY: The Greater Lafayette Climate Action Plan Committee will host a Green Expo from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 5, at the Tippecanoe County 4-H Fairgrounds, 1406 Teal Road. The event will feature vendors and displays on tree planting, recycling and composting methods, home winterization, solar and electric heating and cooling, urban gardens, sustainable farming practices and land conservation. A paper shred truck from Eco-Shred will be at the expo from noon to 2 p.m. (Limit: Three boxes per vehicle. No three-ring binders and no CDs. Paper with staples and paper clips are fine, organizers say.)
The committee also will host workshops, starting at 2 p.m., that will cover the progress of the Greater Lafayette Climate Action Plan, led by the consulting firm Greeley and Hansen.
Admission is free.
STRAIGHT OUT OF LAFAYETTE … AND WORTH YOUR CASH ON THE NBA: I know I should have come to you with this weeks ago, given how strong the NBA Playoffs turned out. But if you want a treat, consider as subscription to the words and flow from Kelly Dwyer, writing and commenting from the heart of Lafayette. While that’s a bit of a strange situation, far from the press benches at the arenas, Dwyer’s publication – The Second Arrangement – is a terrific read, even for the most casual of NBA fans like me. (In his own words: “The Second Arrangement is a home for lovers of basketball, Steely Dan, stand-up comedy and near everything in between.”) The playoff run that delivered Golden State and Boston to the finals also delivered Dwyer’s superb deconstruction of Jimmy Butler taking that last shot that could have sent the Miami Heat on, instead of the Celtics. Here’s how you can find it:
FAVORITE BASEBALL MOVIES: Better than walk-up songs might be the locker room/arrival questions teams have been doing in recent seasons. The Lafayette Aviators, stepping up for Wednesday night’s season opener at Loeb Stadium, got in on the action.
The question: What’s your favorite baseball movie?
What’s your favorite baseball movie? The comments are open now.
Thanks, again, to the historic Delphi Opera House for sponsoring today’s edition. Coming June 3: Good Morning Bedlam. "Minneapolis-based Good Morning Bedlam has a beautiful rootsy folk authenticity that's absolutely integral to the success of the genre,” writes Nick Warren of the Erie Reader. For a taste of their sound, click here. For more information about the Delphi Opera House and for tickets for Good Morning Bedlam, in concert Friday, June 3, here’s your link.
THANKS FOR MAKING THE FIRST YEAR OF THE BASED IN LAFAYETTE REPORTING PROJECT WORK. READY TO SUBSCRIBE?