The news here of a Democratic congressional candidate in Alabama with Arkansas roots — Birmingham professor Mark Lester stepped up as a late contender for an open seat held by a retiring Republican — brings an e-mail from another Arkansan challenging the dominant Republican order in Alabama.
He is Victor Sanchez Williams, a Pine Bluff native and OBU grad who now teaches law at Catholic University in Washington (with a master’s from Harvard and a California law degree among his credentials). He once served as a law clerk to a federal judge in Alabama, which gave him an Alabama connection.
His e-mail (Williams was unknown to me until I received it and apart from numerous web references on his activities, I can’t otherwise confirm it) says he hopes to file a lawsuit for ballot access to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, who had no primary opposition and who has no opponent on the general election ballot. Sessions’ lack of challenger was historic in Alabama. Williams said he would file a “17th Amendment challenge.” The 17th amendment requires that senators be “elected by the people.” Is it an election — or just an appointment — when there are no opponents and the dominant Republican Party has refused to allow a willing candidate on the ballot? That’s Williams’ question. It’s complicated by his refusal to avail himself of the signature petition method.
Williams readily concedes this is a long shot. Prohibitive, I”d guess. But he celebrates his “outside agitator status.” He also hopes to bring attention to one-party dominance and political issues in Alabama (immigration is one of his causes). He has a website up on the effort. Also, he has written on Huffington Post. Gadfly? You might say so. See his policy website.
Wiliams’ e-mail said his ballot petition was rejected July 15. He said he would not attempt the 44,828 signatures required for access so as to make his constitutional challenge “clean.” He contends the petition requirement for an out-of-state candidate (residency is not required for the national office, he contends) is an effective $125,000 filing fee.
I have no illusions about ballot access litigation — it is a tough row to hoe.
However, I do plan to use the campaign and litigation to challenge Jeff Sessions’ extremist ideas — in every way and in every medium I can.
So, for a slow and sleepy Sunday, add the medium of the Arkansas Blog. If Victor Williams is a crank. he’s an Arkansas-produced crank. Maybe Victor Williams is the Say McIntosh of this election cycle in Alabama. But he can claim victory if he can win Say Mac-equivalent headlines about Sessions’ lamentable record — ballot or no ballot.