Third Party Candidates Shaking Up Elections


If you’re a moderate or just someone who’s not too enthused about either of the two main political parties, you may find this interesting. According to an article on Stateline, third party candidates are making serious impacts on races around the country. Granted, some of these candidates are former senators and office holders so they’re hardly outsiders, but it is rather noteworthy. (Oh, and the full article also discusses Jesse Ventura, so that alone is worth a few minutes of your time):

In this volatile election year, third-party and independent candidates are making serious bids for governor in a diverse array of states. Most of them won’t get many votes, but a fair number stand to influence the results and it’s possible that at least one may make it into office.

In Rhode Island alone, a handful of independents are running. The most prominent one is former U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee, who served in Congress as a moderate Republican until his defeat in 2006. Polling has showed Chafee either leading the race for governor or modestly trailing Democratic nominee Frank Caprio.

In Massachusetts, state Treasurer Tim Cahill broke with his Democratic roots to run as an independent against incumbent Democratic Governor Deval Patrick. Recent polls show that he could get as much as 10 percent of the vote, which is greater than Patrick’s current margin over Republican nominee Charles Baker.

In Minnesota, Tom Horner is running under the banner of the Independence Party, the successor to the party once led by Jesse Ventura. Horner, a moderate with a Republican pedigree, is hoping to draw Democrats who see their party’s nominee, former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton, as too liberal, and Republicans who see GOP candidate Tom Emmer as too conservative. Horner has been polling at about 14 percent, which is much more than Dayton’s four-point lead over Emmer.

And in Colorado, former Republican U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo, who has been an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, may end up outpolling the official Republican nominee, Dan Maes, a Tea Party activist who inherited the nomination after the leading GOP candidate stumbled in a plagiarism scandal. Current polls show Tancredo taking 18 percent of the vote, about the same percentage by which Democrat John Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver, is leading over Maes.

Given the number of these credible outsider challenges, it seems appropriate to look back at recent third-party governors to see how they fared once they won office, given that they lacked a major-party infrastructure and fellow partisans in the legislature.

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