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The Independence Party’s slow descent into oblivion

I think the Independence Party needs to sit back and do some self-reflection. 2014 is going to be described as either a joke (at best) or the death knell of the IP.

Consider these points:

1. Self-proclaimed tea party member Steve Carlson won the (IP) primary with slightly more than 2,100 votes, defeating Kevin Terrell, the candidate party leaders had chosen to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken. Terrell received just 1,376 votes.

Carlson describes himself as a “serious politician who writes, performs and raps.” He has delcared he “will create MILLION’s of jobs by restoring state usury authority.” He writes “interesting” poetry about the courts. The Independence Party is so embarrassed by his primary “win” that it will not list him (or even the office of US Senator) on their website.

The IP had 5 US Senate candidates on the ballot. Their endorsed candidate, Kevin Terrell, got 1376 votes (that is statewide remember) or 21% of the total. He finished 200 votes ahead of Jack Shepard — a convicted felon who lives in Italy because he would be arrested if he sets foot in the US.

Steve Carlson probably won because of his Scandinavian name (like Sharon Anderson always getting 35+% in GOP primaries) or voters might have mixed him up with David Carlson who finished 3rd in the GOP Senate primary.

Regardless of the reason, the Independence Party had little means of supporting their endorsed candidates with any semblance of Party organization.

Further evidence of that leads to my second point.

2. Hannah Nicollet, the endorsed candidate for governor, failed to qualify for a public subsidy that would have helped fund her campaign. She needed to raise $35,000 from other sources to qualify for the subsidy, which would have totaled about $178,000. 

But at least she won her primary. Of course she also was unopposed and her vote total of 5,824 was about 700 votes less than the total vote in the Senate primary.

She will be going into the general election with less than $35,000 — actually her cash on hand balance is about $13,000 — and little hope of getting much more than that.

And with all of that, the Independence Party has to find someone in this group who will pull in 5% of the vote so they can retain major party status.

The Party needs to rethink some things. And it is not so much about winning elections as to how it wants to be identified. 

I believe there are very serious people in the Independence Party. I believe they do want to debate some ideas on improving the electoral process. But there is another problem here as well.

(Quoting from the MPR article linked above):

The biggest short-term concern is maintaining major party status, said Matt Lewis, who sits on the IP board but has not actively participated in party activities since February.

Mr. Lewis is right about that concern; but the reason for that concern probably shows up in the last part of that quote. He is on the IP board and has not participated since February.

One thing you have to give Jesse Ventura — the original “identity” of the Independence Party — he elicits passion, he elicits a reaction. His ideas and motives may be problematic, but when he was the face of the IP, you knew it was there.

I’m afraid that today’s Independence Party doesn’t have that fire or recognizable push for reform. 

In fact, it may not be long before it may not even exist at all.

This post was written by Dave Mindeman and originally published on mnpACT! Progressive Political Blog. Follow Dave on Twitter: @newtbuster.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/15/2014 - 11:29 am.


    As a long time IP voter, I checked their website Monday night to help decide whether to bother voting in the primary. Based on a quick perusal of candidates’ policy positions I determined voting wasn’t worth the bother as the candidates seemed a bit unfamiliar with the duties & powers of the positions for which they are running. Nicollet, for example, seemed motivated and informed more by anti-fedrtalism dogma more suitable to libertarians or tea party types than of someone who’d thoughtfully considered the issues.

    Oh well. The incumbents aren’t so bad right now anyway.

    • Submitted by Robert Helland on 08/15/2014 - 05:26 pm.

      Mr. Simon, I welcome you to call me out on my unfamiliarity

      I appreciate your opinion and would welcome constructive dialogue on how I may seem unfamiliar with the constitutional roles and responsibilities of the Office of Secretary of State.

      A former state business registration and tax compliance expert, proficient in technology utilization and integration, a successful training and project management record, who understands the importance of an independent nonpartisan chief elections officer and who has the appeal to reach the disaffected and wherewithal to fight for the disenfranchised… I am keen to know your thoughts.

      Consider also that my two major party opponents, former legislators, seem preoccupied with a years’ old battle of “to photo ID or not to photo ID at the polls” when legislating election law is not the purview of the executive office. Note: I agree with Rep. Simon that Minnesota does not need this burden and I am more focused on ensuring back-end validation systems and personnel are up to the task. I will also independently call for investigations when presented with legitimate challenges to election processes. I have real-world experience in individual identity verification and fraud detection from my public service and technology background.

      Thanks for indulging.

      ~Bob Helland, IP nominee for Minnesota Secretary of State

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/15/2014 - 01:29 pm.


    All the IP ever had to offer was “We’re not Democrats; we’re not Republicans.” That isn’t much of a basis for building a party.

    Frankly, I’m surprised they lasted this long.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 08/29/2014 - 05:29 am.

      You are correct. The Family Circus “Not Me

      Ventura had a lot of bluster & a few token slogans when he ran.

      The Democrats & Republicans who debated against Ventura didn’t deal with soundbites, or the lack of substance after they were uttered. They helped make him as an alternative.

      I wonder if Jesse was the most surprised guy in the room when he actually won, because it sure looked & felt as though it was a gimmick to run in the first place.

      The IP has no identity of their own.

  3. Submitted by David Mindeman on 08/15/2014 - 05:18 pm.

    Glad to see Mr. Helland has some spunk

    …now if only your entire Party had as much. I didn’t say that ALL of the IP candidates are unqualified – but unfortunately, some are not and the IP is vulnerable to gadflys because they have no infrastructure and base support to build with. More power to you, Mr. Helland. Good luck…as you may be the only hope for the IP to get that 5% threshold.

  4. Submitted by Bill Withers on 08/15/2014 - 08:35 pm.


    One huge problem the IP has is the complete lack of relevant media coverage. The only time MINNPOST has anything to say about the IP it is always on the party lasting. Maybe if just one media outlet would have done some honest reporting on the candidates and issues, maybe people would have been able to make a better informed decision on the senate candidate. Or how about covering any of the congressional candidates? I have seen absolutely nothing of the CD-4 candidate and I most likely won’t because the media has already told me that the district is “safe”. Of course it is if no one reports on relevancy and instead spends their time informing us every election of the impending doom of the Independence Party. They are still here by the way, and will be after the election as well.

  5. Submitted by Jeff Helland on 08/18/2014 - 12:56 pm.


    Not one mention that Bob Helland won his primary challenge in fact on some of the others feeds it was mentioned that he only won by a 3% margin with the other candidate spending no money (which of course is just false, he spent $300.00 to register as a IP in the primary, but why let the truth get in the way of a reporter making a headline!)

    I put the challenge along with the accusation that the main stream media is less about reporting and more about protecting there lucrative revenue streams from the 2 major parties political adds.

    That they main stream media is searching for the scandal more than substance of good political leaders.

    That soundbites are more important than a in-depth analysis of the candidates.

    That there interpretation of unbiased reporting is based on there own fabrication of the facts.

    The only reason Bob won this primary is because he went out and worked for it. He enlisted the help of everyone he new and made contact with, that is what made the difference.

    Yes the fact of the matter is that the IP is a weak loose network of independent minded people that refuse to be round up and corralled into the new media short sightedness and political pundits that dominate there reporting.

    I for one WILL NOT be forced fed the steady stream of partisan politics from the business as usual (in other words- lazy) tradition media.

    I will be submitting editorials, writing emails to the media and demand that there is more out there than the 2 political parties and want to hear from!

    Please do the same!
    Jeff Helland (Full Disclosure – Bob’s Proud Dad)

  6. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/18/2014 - 09:41 pm.

    The problem with the Independence Party

    is that they have no clear public identity. They say that they are the “moderates” in between the Republicans and the DFL, but what does that mean? Despite what the AM radio guys say, today’s DFL is already pretty moderate, with little left from the Farmer-Labor part of its roots. People from other countries would look at the DFL and dub it a centrist party.

    The Independence Party strikes me as being old-style Republicans, for the most part, Republicans from the era before the GOP became the party of Greed, Oil, and Puritanism.

    Their energies might be spent more productively in taking the Republican Party back from the Tea Party types.

    There is room for a third party, but it ought to go into the space to the left of the DFL. If the real left could stop being so wonkish, accept allies who agree with them only partly, and start organizing on the local level among constituencies that the Democrats and Republicans both ignore, they could get somewhere.

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