Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Michael: Is Mary Peters an Alien?

John Green says his potential rival for the GOP Gubernatorial nomination Mary Peters doesn't meet Constitutional requirements to be Governor. Greene points out that Peters bought a house and registered to vote in Virginia two years ago after she was appointed to head the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) by Bush. Our Constitution requires that a candidate for Arizona Governor, or any elective executive office, have been a citizen for the five years prior to his or her election. It is possible that Peters may have changed her citizenship at that time.

The issue is far from settled by Greene's allegation, however. State citizenship is one of those murky areas of law that contains few bright line rules. Citizenship is largely, if not entirely, a matter of domocile. One changes ones domociliary status by moving to another state with the intent to remain, so just moving to another state, or even registering to vote there, does not change one's domocile unless you also have the requisite intent. Intent is an innately subjective standard, so it can be hard for a court to determine if one's testimony as to one's intent is contested. There are, of course, objective criteria which might indicate having such an intent, such as buying real property or registering to vote, among others.

This is likely to be a continuing issue of contention, possibly even litigation, if Mary Peters intends to stay in this race for the duration. It is also possible that this issue effect the first elimination from a crowded field of GOP Gubernatorial hopefuls.

If Peters stays in the race it will be interesting to see what is done with the rich mine of oppo research that her time at the FHWA represents. Consider also that the much-criticized and pork laden transportation bill was passed on her watch. Such a widely reviled spending bill might become an albatross around her neck with small government conservatives. Her strong advocacy of using toll roads and bridges as a means of upgrading Americas aging transportation infrastructure may alienate Democrats and Independents who could view such privatization as a yet another means of empowering profiteering contractors at the expense of the public welfare.

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