Weekend open thread: Third-party candidates edition

August 13 was the deadline for third-party candidates seeking state offices to submit their nominating petitions to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. (Third-party candidates for county offices have until August 25 to do so).

This pdf file contains the complete list of candidates who have qualified for the ballot for federal offices, statewide offices or seats in the Iowa House and Senate.

Four candidates filed for the governor’s race: Jonathan Narcisse of the Iowa Party, Eric Cooper of the Libertarian Party, David Rosenfeld of the Socialist Workers Party, and a “fathers’ rights” activist named Gregory James Hughes. John Deeth noted that Iowa has more gubernatorial candidates than in any cycle since 1994, and that “the first cycle since 1998 that the Greens have had no top of the ticket candidate” in Iowa.

When Narcisse announced plans to run for governor, many people assumed he would draw votes primarily from Governor Chet Culver, whom Narcisse supported in 2006. However, Narcisse told the Des Moines Register this week,

“One pleasant surprise has been the number of [Bob] Vander Plaats supporters breaking our way. They understand, despite the rhetoric of candidate [Terry] Branstad, that his sixteen years in office make it clear he just doesn’t care about their priorities. So I’m seeing a lot of that support pour my way especially from rural communities,” said Narcisse.

Libertarian candidates also filed for U.S. Senate and in the first and second Congressional districts, as well as for secretary of state. Given how easy it is to qualify for the ballot in Iowa House and Senate districts (50 signatures for a House race and 100 signatures for a Senate race), I was surprised not to see more Libertarian candidates file for the state legislature. They didn’t venture beyond college towns. Libertarian candidates filed in Senate district 15 and House district 30, both in the Iowa City area where Republicans didn’t field a candidate against Democratic incumbents (Senator Bob Dvorsky and State Representative Dave Jacoby). They also fielded a candidate in House district 46, which includes a big chunk of Ames. Democratic incumbent Lisa Heddens has a Republican challenger too.

The Libertarian candidate for governor, Eric Cooper, has set a goal of winning at least 2 percent of the vote this year to gain major-party status. After that, Libertarians would field candidates in as many statehouse districts as possible in 2012 and beyond. But why wait until then? If I were a Libertarian trying to spread a message about the Republican Party betraying small-government principles, I would have fielded candidates against lots of Republican incumbents, especially those who have no Democratic challenger. They might have received a surprisingly large protest vote, generating some free media attention for the Libertarians in November.

This is an open thread. Share anything on your mind this weekend, whether or not it relates to the upcoming elections.

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