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The Independence Party Has A Place, But They Need A Plan

Category: Independence Party
Posted: 08/28/14 12:44

by Dave Mindeman

I am going to preface this post about the Independence Party by stating my preference that the IP sticks around. My past thoughts on the IP have been somewhat pessimistic, but that's because I'm going more for a wake up call then wishing their demise. I think that a viable third party option is important to rein in partisan tactics of the Democrats and Republicans....and a means of tempering negative campaigns. A solid Independence Party in Minnesota could do that.

But, having said all of that, I watched the At Issue interview of Hannah Nicollet from Sunday and I have to admit that it was disappointing.

Nicollet said that she switched from seeking the Senate endorsement to the Governor endorsement, basically at the convention. The spot was open and she, more or less, rewrote her speech to address state issues rather than Federal issues. The insinuation being that the nominations were fungible and that it was just a quick shift to make that transition.

We are talking about two very different statewide campaigns and Nicollet had prepared herself for a Senate run on Federal issues. The idea that you can just shift gears on a whim and move to a statewide run for Governor is not something to be taken so lightly. There are a multitude of differences.

And that difference showed up during the interview. Nicollet talked about taxes and began to indicate her opposition to the Warehouse Tax passed in the previous session, but Hauser, the host, had to point out to her that the Warehouse tax had already been repealed. She did not know that and I find that pretty troubling.

Her inexperienced showed. She rambled at times. Went off on tangents. Failed to really answer the question. I don't want to be overly critical, but Hannah Nicollet did not look like someone ready for a highly contested election. She will get there, but she is not ready yet.

And that is part of the problem with the Independence Party. They do not have the depth of candidates to gain that experience or knowledge within the party. Their emphasis on the legalization of marijuana is actually a good issue, but they have to force that into the debate and they do not have the resources or the clout to do that.

The IP has a real problem in this election year. They need a candidate to win 5% of the vote. Now, as I understand the statute, that 5% can occur in any statewide race. The focus has been on Senate or Governor, but I assume that SOS, Auditor, or Attorney General would qualify. There might be a possibility in those races but again, do they have the resources to promote one of those people? If that is their best hope, they might want to pool resources behind one of the more viable options.

There are two other methods of maintaining major state party status. One is meeting a threshold of legislative candidates. They did not meet the Senate threshold in 2012 and since the Senate is not up for election in 2014, they cannot qualify that way. (Remember, the last time they got a 5% vote was in 2010 via Tom Horner - they did not meet that threshold with any candidate in 2012 and since major party status requires them to meet the criteria within the next two elections, 2014 is a make or break year). Getting back to major party status might require the third method which is petitions for nominating about seventy Legislative seats, with 500 signatures on each petition. That would be a tall order for a party in a weakened condition.

As I said above, I really do not want to see the Independence Party lose that major party status. They have a place in state politics, but they need to establish that place with a more solid political base. Solid party building is a slow, meticulous and patient process.

The IP needs to figure out a plan before its too late.
comments (4) permalink
08/29/14 17:06
What is so unfortunate is the way the major parties have been able to exclude the minors from debate. The role of the minor parties in major contests, like the President, have been historically significant. It is shameful that major parties are given so much influence in how debate and dialog is conducted.

If the major parties are allowed to be successful in squelching the minor voices and opinion, the third party will forever be in a death spiral of influence. Too many are unwilling to support a candidate or cause even though they substantially agree. The perception that supporting a candidate would be voting for losers is a chicken and egg situation. That's how we end up with two very big tents and a vacuum of debates.

Plug your nose and vote for the best spin is what has happened to political discourse in the whole country.

Lawmaking has become a game of loyalty more than strategic design. It is a shame. If only we could be asking our elected representatives to find the best solution instead of a solution with the least negative impressions from a largely ignorant population.

Look at the light rail fiasco with all the approvals for a design nobody likes and solves only a fraction of our problems. The rail corridor is so severely damaged by urban sprawl, it may soon be impossible to transport ocean sized piles of rural corn and beans from SW Minnesota to the Mississippi river for transport. The current infrastructure is overwhelmed with oil. And nobody seems to care about proper design. Only care is for "how do we vote to kick these problems down the road?"

This is shameful incompetence of the highest order. It is no way to run a railroad and certainly no way to run a nation, state, or community.

08/29/14 16:57
The IP needs a coherent platform, for starters. Ventura's moderate/populist economic approach with a more libertarian bent on social issues is the blueprint they should be following, but they've just become the avenue of last resort for folks like Penny or Horner who are out the mainstream of their previous party or Nicollet, who has able to round enough disaffected Ron Paulites to get the nomination.
08/29/14 09:20
Can a party be a party if it does not offer candidates at the local level ?

My House district does not have a DFL candidate this year (again) which says that the IP could have easily gotten 30% of the vote by just putting a name on the ballot. Am I correct that they are only competing in two State Legislature contests ?
27A - Tom Price
55A - Derek Thury

Instead, they will play the "anybody-but" role in the Second, Fourth and Sixth Congressional contests as well as in the state leadership contests.

Is it fair to say that the MN TEA Party has a better shot at winning elections than the IP ? After all, Tom Emmer has been endorsed by the TEA Party Express and Cindy Maves, is the co-founder of the Rochester Tea Party Patriots, is running for Mayor of Rochester.

The TEA Party is alive and well ... the IP is a memory.
08/28/14 20:10
I agree with you summation that the IP major party status could be in jeopardy, if party candidates do not reach 5% in statewide races or does not push forward plans for structuring the party in future years. I do and will support Hannah Nicollett, Brendan Borgos, Bob Helland and Pat Dean on November 4th. I do not want to see the IP going back to gathering petition to run candidates for office. I believe candidates collecting 500 signatures for State Legislative office and 1,000 signatures for statewide offices are attrocious.

Josh D. Ondich
Prior Lake, MN


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