CALIFORNIA -- On Friday, March 6, the California Republican Party (CRP) filed a trademark infringement complaint against the Asian American Small Business PAC, claiming that it unlawfully used the Republican trademarked elephant image in a mailer supporting Michaela Hertle (a Republican) in the special election for Senate District 7. Hertle dropped out of the race weeks ago and immediately endorsed Democrat Steve Glazer.
"Mr. Glazer has proven that he can work with Republicans and Democrats alike to find common sense solutions to our state’s needs," Hertle said in her endorsement. "Like me, he is a fiscal conservative. He supports pension reform and school reform. He is not beholden to labor or other special interests, as seen by his opposition to BART strikes.”
The lawsuit comes a little over a week before the March 17 special primary election in Senate District 7 between 4 Democratic candidates. While Hertle announced she will not campaign, her name will still appear on the ballot. The CRP argues that the PAC is intentionally trying to confuse voters.
“Deceptive ads like these mislead voters and misinform them about the positions and endorsements of the California Republican Party,” said California Republican Party Chairman Senator Jim Brulte (Ret.) in a statement. “It’s egregious on the part of a Democratic Political Action Committee to intentionally deceive Californians with its use of well-known Republican images.”
According to the CRP’s press release, the party issued a cease and desist letter to the PAC once they had learned of the trademark infringement. Instead of complying, however, CRP says the PAC paid for the publication and distribution of a second mailer, this one “with even more offending, unauthorized elephant images.”"[I]t’s about protecting our property, but more importantly protecting the integrity of the political process and the rights of California voters not to be misled by blatant misconduct of this nature,” said California Republican Party Vice Chairman Harmeet K. Dhillon.
The Sacramento Bee reports that Glazer believes the PAC is intentionally trying to keep him from landing a top two spot in the race to advance to the general election. In a race in which many Republicans will look to a candidate with broad electoral appeal, Glazer's supporters say the PAC doesn't want another business-friendly Democrat who is willing to work with Republicans to make California more business-friendly as well.
Glazer has enraged many union leaders more than once, most recently when he aggressively opposed the 2014 BART strike. Meanwhile, business PACs and leaders have joined the Republican Party in supporting Glazer's campaign.
Many observers claim that district polling suggests Glazer is likely to make the runoff against a fellow Democrat. If so, the candidate who can appeal to a cross section of Republicans, Democrats, and independents will likely win the seat.
Image: Democrat Steve Glazer (left) and Republican Michaela Hertle