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.
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