A coup in one of California’s third parties?

OK, we’re gonna get pretty far down in the weeds on this one, but hey, we’re all political junkies, right?

Chelene Nighingale, 43, a conservative anti-illegal-immigration activist and former nonprofit executive and small business owner from Palmdale, was asked by national Constitution Party leaders to run in California as an American Independent Party candidate for governor. Also seeking that nomination was AIP Chairman Markham Robinson, 66, a financial-planning software company owner from Vacaville.

With many vote-by-mail ballots yet to be counted, results as of Wednesday afternoon show Nightingale beat Robinson, 58.2 percent to 41.8 percent.

This is interesting – I hope? – because of the schism that this party has seen in recent years. The split happened in 2008 as one faction recognized Jim King of Montebello as AIP chairman and the other recognized Ed Noonan of Yuba City; the factions disagreed on foreign-policy issues and on the influence of national Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips on the state party.

King’s faction chose to remain affilated with the Constitution Party, but the Secretary of State’s office didn’t recognize it and so its candidates didn’t appear on California’s ballots; Noonan’s faction pulled out of the Constitution Party and joined a new national party – America’s Independent Party – founded by perennial candidate Alan Keyes, who went on 2008’s ballot as the AIP’s presidential candidate. Robinson later succeeded Noonan as the state AIP chair.

So if a Constitution Party-backed candidate just beat the sitting AIP chairman for the AIP’s gubernatorial nomination, it seems fair to say the battle for this party’s soul continues. In fact, King won the AIP’s nomination for lieutenant governor unopposed.

However, Noonan – also the founder of the “California Mormon Battalion,” who posted an anti-major-party article Monday entitled “Are you the devil’s prostitute?” – did vanquish the Constitution Party-supported Don Grundmann – a San Leandro chiropractor and herbalist bent on eliminating the Federal Reserve, the IRS and gay rights – and Al Salehi of Beverly Hills this week for the AIP’s nomination for U.S. Senate: Noonan with 39.4 percent, Grundmann with 33.9 percent and Salehi with 26.7 percent.

Perhaps the fighting is so fierce because the stakes are so small – the AIP as of May 24 had 397,136 registered voters statewide, 2.34 percent of California’s registered electorate. That does make it the largest of the state’s “third parties,” well ahead of the Greens and Libertarians, though some believe the AIP’s ranks are perpetually inflated by voters who want to be “independent” and accidentally register under the American Independent Party rather than signing up for decline-to-state status.

At any rate, however, the AIP seems unlikely to win any state or federal races anytime soon. But it sure is interesting to watch…

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • AJ


  • Truthclubber

    “But it sure is interesting to watch…”

    So is a squirrel on waterskis, but I don’t take much time to do that…

    BTW — Fun Fact! “Squirreled” is the longest (ten letters!) single syllable word in the (American) English language.

    Hey, if you read this story all the way down to here, you need some comic relief.

  • Josh Richman

    Well, Truthclubber, if it’s good enough for Ron Burgundy, it’s good enough for me.

  • For Liberty

    Whether you realize it or not, California is in desperate need of a gubernatorial candidate like Chelene Nightingale!! Go to nightingaleforgovernor.com to learn more, then pass the word around.

    She doesn’t have the millions from Goldman’s Sachs and the unions, so open your mouths and let people know that their liberty depends on whether or not she gets into office.

  • So the majority of people didn’t want Meg & Brown, yet they won their Primary’s. We think they are the only choices for California? I’m confused because this Nightingale is for all the stuff “we” say we want, but she has no chance? why again? because we HAVE to vote for Meg or Jerry? For God sakes, how long will we let our state continue to go down the drain before we realize that this type of thinking belongs in 2006 where it belongs.
    Chelene Nightigale is the story for 2010 and beyond. A real chance to tell the fed that we are “fed up” with their unfunded mandates and global agendas that do not reflect the best intentions for the United States. (Agenda 21 anybody?-google it)

    When people say that people like Chelene have no chance, I usually say “speak for yourself” because we don’t live in an authoritative regime, “We” live in a Free Republic where “We” have the choice to vote for whoever “We” want. Candidates and parties have to earn “Our” votes.
    If a particular party is not earning the vote (i.e. by misleading members and altering platforms to fit the political winds) then I say “vote for the party that DOES earn your vote. I guess that’s why the Constitution Party is the largest and fastest growing party in the United States. The AIP (mentioned in the article above)is the largest “third party” in California. The AIP (and I have looked this up) has historically affiliated itself with the Constitution Party. Thus, this party and its candidates have the potential to really shake things up in California. What is the best way to get rid of the incumbency and guarantee its lineage does not continue? Well…vote for something else. It is REAL easy to do. I mean c’mon, does anybody still believe we have a two party system anymore? Progressivism is progressivism, the name and faces are different.

  • Elwood

    “let people know that their liberty depends on whether or not she gets into office.”

    Good God, has it come to that?

    We’re doomed!

  • Truthclubber

    Hey Josh, whatever floats your boat (or gets you through the night, according to that great Beatles starr, Ringo…)

  • Amie

    I am tired of hearing that we can’t vote our conscious because it will split the vote and the evildoers win. Well like it or not the evildoers have been winning long enough. I believe this country is ripe for a change in the political winds, we have all seen it played out in several contests around the nation. The state of CA is in dire need of someone who is ‘We the People’ to go in and stir it up. I will no longer hold my nose and vote for the least offensive candidate. I am throwing all my support behind Chelene because I believe wholeheartedly in the things she believes in. It is time we take OUR country back from the evildoers and we CAN start right here and right now. Please if you don’t know about Chelene go to NIGHTENGALEFORGOVERNOR.COM and read about her and her platforms and beliefs. And if you like what you see PLEASE volunteer or at least start opening your mouth to people in your social circles. We can’t afford to worry any longer what people might think of us if we are backing a 3rd party candidate. We can’t afford to let someone buy the governor’s mansion we have to stand up and fight and Chelene has the intestinal fortitude to do battle with the powers that be that are sucking us into a black hole.

  • You hit the nail on the head there Freedom.

    Im voting for Nightingale cuz thats the only option as I see it. Doesn’t matter whether I vote for Meg of Brown, im still gettin crap.

    Nothing to lose by voting for Nightingale. She’s pretty hot too. 😉

  • Paul E. von Savoye

    Chelene Nightingale is the candidate of The Constitution Party as you point out in your article. The Constitution Party is the only party that realizes the importants of constitution. Sure the others have taken an oath to uphold and defend it and as soon they get into office they trample all over it. It is our constitution that has set this nation apart from all others. It is our constitution that made America the greatest nation in the world. It is our constitution that guarantees our freedom that made our republic the greatest on earth. It was not our natural resources, soil or even our people that gave us the strongest economy in the world. It is freedom that built our factories,jobs,wealth,inventions and strong economy. As we look at the abuses & liberties that have been taken against our constitution we see in direct proportion to the decline of our economy. If we are to once again be the great nation we have been in the past we must reinstate and install once more our constitution. It is God given freedom that has set us apart from every other nation in the world. It is through freedom that our economy can once again be the strongest in the world. May God Bless America to wake up and uphold and defend our constitution at all cost.

  • phyliss

    To be clear Chelene Nightingale for governor 2010 aip was not vetted BY ANYONE in the AIP! This woman has filed for bankruptcy and foreclosure, (documents online) has tried to conceal this, is unemployed and has not formal education. Now, tell me, how does this qualify her to run the State of CA? Just because someone can yell at rallies does not make for a decent candidate. She has ties to radical hate groups and has been sued by Jim Gilchrist of the minutemen for trying to hijack his movement. Also, was accused of not filing for proper tax statis. Why on earth would you even advocate voting for this woman just because you are against the reps and dems. Don’t throw away the baby with the bathwater. This woman would be impeached if ever elected due to her reprehensible past. Do some research and quit turning a blind eye to con artists.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Fun fact: squirreled, except in poetry, is two syllables.

  • Truthclubber

    As usual, “Arr, Arr” is a horse’s ass as well as a new American Facsist — squirreled IS in fact, recognized by non-fascist types as a legitimate one syllable word.

    Another example of how these new American Fascists would try to con you into accepting their biased and manipulative BS by outright lying — as was done in the 1930s Germany to great success…

  • Elwood

    You’re checking under your bed every night for fascists again, aren’t you?

    Take your meds.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Truthie, my source is the Oxford English Dictionary. What’s your authority?

  • judge B

    July 2, 2010 The AIP (american independent party) has announced they have filed with the STATE of CA to remove the AIP from Chelene Nightingale for governor 2010 from the ballot in November. AIP did not endorse this woman who lied about her bankruptcy and other important issues that would NOT make her viable to be a candidate. THE AIP does not want her using the Party name, and have acted to prevent her from this hijacking.

  • Don Richards atty

    Chelene Nightingale is running a very fraudulent campaign. Her donations are listed as “legal defense fund” as she was sued by many people for non payment after she filed for bankruptcy recently. her ties to a woman that murdered a little immigrant child and her father at the border are notable. Chelene Nightingale/shawna Forde…google that for more info on her life with Xenophobes and criminals. She is an artful con artist who found yet another way to make money by doing no work. Its truly disgusting and I know republicans will never forget this really forgettable character. She might be behind bars if she doesn’t fix her ways.

  • janine

    http://www.nightingaleforgovernor.com Shame on nthis Girl (not Woman) for playing childish games with the election process, trying to mess with the republican vote for her own personal enjoyment. AIP is not republican, she is trying to convince people she is the real republican. No you are NOT! yOU ARE TRYING TO SIPHON VOTES TO A PITIFUL campaign. You were not vetted by the AIP infacyt they tried to get you off the ballot once they saw the lies and dishonorable behavior. Bankruptcy radical hate groups. YOU are not a politician, you are a activist that creates havoc where ever you go. You are reprehensible for your fake run. Get lost Nightingale. Get up off your knees.

  • Don Richards atty

    Nightingale has a past that would get her impeached if by the fantasy she ever got elected. She would not pass the “ethics” test and other background tests to move forward. Trust me on this one.

  • pig rancher

    The dirty lying pig lost as she should. Your little games are over, you are old now pig, your little tricks will be harder to play. You are the sickest kind of con artist there is. We the people will be watching to inform others of your game. we are on to you 🙂