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The Political Landscape:

Ballot suit draws criticism

Critics from right and left say lawyer’s suit against candidate for Congress was a waste of time, hypocritical.

March 27, 2008|By Chris Caesar

Republican lawyer Michael Schroeder’s now dismissed lawsuit seeking to prohibit Democrat Debbie Cook from using the title “Mayor of Huntington Beach” on congressional ballots— a move he said was illegal under California election code — may have prompted some unexpected blowback for the GOP activist.

Right-wing critics said the suit relied on a narrow reading of election law and was a waste of time that makes the GOP look no better than schoolyard bullies.

From the left, opponents argue the suit is hypocritical (there are a number of other Republicans using the same title) and legally dubious.

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Whatever the case, a judge in the 4th District Court of Appeals threw out the suit Wednesday, though the details of the decision were not available as of press time.

Prior to that, Schroeder’s suit took hits from blogs, columnists, and even editorial boards across the state and country.

Nationally prominent progressive blogs, including DailyKos and DownWithTyranny!, also took Schroeder to task — occasionally using language a bit harsher than one would see in a family newspaper — saying the move was an underhanded attempt to use the courts to influence the election.

Ironically, it seems the widespread coverage ultimately reaped some unintended consequences for the Cook campaign. The widely sympathetic coverage landed a small bump in netroots fundraising for the mayor, her communications director Joe Shaw said.

“It was a slight increase — I wouldn’t say it was a lot — but it was a slight increase, which is always a good thing,” he said. “We’ve also gotten some donations from other places in the country, as well.”

Schroeder dismissed the wide-ranging criticisms as “Debbie Cook spin,” and said before the case was dismissed that he remained confident that his legal challenge would succeed. He was not available for comment following reports that the case had been dismissed.

“A couple of blog postings don’t translate into serious blowback,” he said. “The criticisms are primarily from Democrats associated with Debbie Cook.”

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