This post is part of a continuing feature of independent candidate’s responses to roundtable questions posed by Independent Voters of America. Independent Voters of America has been reaching out to independent and third party candidates across the country to gather their opinions and insights on issues of interest to our community.
Running as an independent candidate in a statewide election poses its own special set of challenges. Financial resources and people power are spread thinner, and challenges and difficulties posed by a third party candidacy can only be magnified by the scale of the race. While these challenges can seem insurmountable, especially for candidates without prior political experience, independents have had electoral success in recent history. Names like Jesse Ventura, Bernie Sanders, Joe Lieberman, and Angus King have proven that the right combination of strategy, cold hard cash, and disgruntled partisan voters can produce a statewide independent win. For the purposes of this IVA roundtable, we’ve grouped the following four statewide candidates for office together:
The question posed to the candidates was:
You’ve seen the recent approval ratings and bipartisan gridlock in Washington DC. Why run for office and why run as an Independent?
Angus King: I am running for the U.S. Senate because Congress is not working – we must fix the system before we can tackle any of the important issues our country faces. Partisan gridlock caused Olympia Snowe, a well-established senior Senator with top committee assignments, to feel that she could no longer be an effective Congressperson. It is terrible that such an important voice has been pushed out by partisan gridlock. I believe that to help dissolve the gridlock, we need more independent voices that are not bogged down by party doctrine.
Ian Gilyeat: There are several reasons good reasons to run for the U.S. Senate: It is a small body of people where one-on-one conversations can be had to great effect; the Senate is almost evenly split so an Independent need not have any prior political experience or committee exposure to play a significant role in what is approved or blocked in our nation’s capital. It is a body of people with responsibility to give advice and consent to the President. Since I have no allegiance to the parties and am willing to hold to the Constitution, the Senate is an ideal place to have impact in a very short time frame. This is important because the less time I spend in Washington the better.
Why run as an Independent? I see little value in the parties. When in Washington they act the same and do the same things – all in the name of protecting their own positions of power and control. Being “independent” aligns with the ideals of being an informed electorate. Also, I side with George Washington and his view that parties inherently carry a divisive spirit; a spirit of us versus them. I prefer to think of us as American citizens and would rather focus on solving problems than playing party politics. Finally, I’ve seen first-hand the strong-arm tactics that party leaders play telling people who they can vote for. They want an oath to the party that supersedes loyalty to the Constitution and trumps our individual liberty to vote according to our own conscience.
Scott Rupert: My choice to run as an independent (non-party) candidate was made back in 2008. Let me begin by pointing out that I am NOT a politician. I’m a problem solver, who chooses to make his living by driving a truck. Throughout the 2008 campaign season, all I ever heard were ads, from both sides, using “fear” to motivate the electorate. No one said “Here is why you should vote for me”, only “Don’t vote for the other guys”. That’s not what electoral politics is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a free exchange of ideas.
I’m running for the US Senate because, to put it simply, that’s where the problem is. To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t one senator who properly defines the job as the Constitution intended. It’s true, our senators are chosen by the people today, but the job still remains the same; to protect the State from the intrusion of federal government. In essence, to be the voice of the State, not to exercise authority over it… If I can look at my government and identify the problem as originating in the Senate, it make no sense, whatsoever, to run for any other office. As I said, I’m a problem solver, not a politician.
Mark Greene: It seems to be a little better in Washington state than D.C., the Legislature recently had a substantial majority in reaching a bipartisan consensus on the budget, but that just reinforces the sense, here, that there’s little difference between the parties. Lots of politicians, here, are called either DINO’s or RINO’s, e.g., their party in name only. I’m running to increase the number of elected politicians that look out for the common person’s interests in all manner of areas, such as trade, trying to stop outsourcing, the environment, and balancing technology with health concerns. As an independent, this is way of letting the voters know that there is a big distinction between my views and overall philosophy and the party regulars who are mostly indebted to or in some way tied to the corporatists that largely fund their elections.