Miller Times: Was voting for Horner the right thing to do?

For those who witnessed the 2000 presidential election, recounts are a painful walk down memory lane.

Here we go again.

Democrat Mark Dayton leads Republican Tom Emmer by just about 9,000 votes in the Minnesota gubernatorial election, soit appears the race will be decided by automatic recount. State election rules require an automatic recount for any election decided by less than 0.5 percent of the overall vote. Dayton’s lead is just about 0.43 percent.

In 2008, Minnesota endured a recount between two senatorial candidates — Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman — who sparred for eight months while the votes were tallied and the results were taken to court. Franken eventually won but the lengthy process was an embarrassment and left Minnesota underrepresented in the U.S. Senate.

This time around, the candidate I voted for, Independent Tom Horner, is catching a fair amount of heat for siphoning votes from Dayton, à la Ralph Nader-from-Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. There may be a sliver of validity to the argument. If I hadn’t voted Horner, I certainly would’ve voted Dayton. But voting isn’t about convenience or expediency and I didn’t have to choose between Horner or Dayton. I wasn’t about to spurn the candidate I truly wanted to appease Dayton supporters or quicken the vote counting.

Here’s some of the Horner vitriol I’m seeing on Twitter:

  • “Oh goody. Another MN recount. Thanks, Tom Horner! asshole”
  • “Holyfreakincrap the Minnesota Gov. race has entered recount territory. NOOOOO! Damn u Tom Horner. Independence party sucks. Pick a side!”
  • “Frickin 3rd parties!!! From Ross Perot to Tom Horner to Tim Olson & everyone in between, self-serving 3rd parties steal votes from Repubs”
  • “Right now I HATE Tom Horner, well meaning peep as he may be.”

So much for favoring the emergence of a third party, because, as one of the above tweets put it, moderate voters should just “pick a side.”

I say kudos to Tom Horner. Though he pulled just 12 percent of the vote (compared to about 44 percent for both Dayton and Emmer), he commanded respect through nearly 30 debates and represented the Independence Party of Minnesota with class and integrity. I believe Horner’s campaign paired with the feckless back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats will boost membership and interest in his party over the next few years.

Who knows how long Recount 2010(-2011?) will last. No matter what, though, don’t let impatience turn to blame. Horner had every right to run, as did the four other third-party candidates whose combined 24,000 votes kept Dayton and Emmer within the automatic recount margin.

That’s democracy, folks, and it aint’ always a drive-thru. Even if you voted Dayton or Emmer, you should celebrate the fact there were other options on the ballot. One of the two will still win. If you believe in your candidate and your candidate is worth a damn, it shouldn’t matter if there’s two, three, 15 or 100 names on the ballot. If your candidate loses, that’s really no one’s fault but their own.

This post was written byAndrew Miller and originally published on theMiller Times. Follow Andrew on Twitter:@the_millertimes.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Susan Maricle on 11/04/2010 - 10:50 am.

    Try not to beat yourself up, Andrew. Plenty of self-flagellation to go around!

    Who’s to say if a third party candidate did or didn’t affect a race. Perhaps some of the 251,495 voters who chose Horner wouldn’t have voted at all if he hadn’t been on the ticket.

    And let’s not forget voters who chose Green, Resource, Grassroots, Ecology, Democracy, or Write-In candidates. Their 25,828 votes could have made a difference. Are they getting beat up on Twitter?

    Short of a law banning third parties, the American voting system is what it is. And until it is what it isn’t — a system that offers ranked-choice voting — we will have outcomes like we did in this week and in 2008. As you said, ain’t democracy grand.

  2. Submitted by Debra Hoffman on 11/06/2010 - 06:15 pm.

    I voted for Dayton and even though I think Horner may have siphoned off a number of votes from Dayton, he probably siphoned off many more votes from Emmer.

    I was upset when Gore lost in a squeaker & it ended up being decided by the Supreme Court partly because Nader received around 2.75% of the total votes.

    That being said, I am a strong advocate of having more than 2 parties fielding candidates and ranked-choice voting.

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