Inside the Capitol

Sunday, June 08, 2008

6-16 Independents Could Determine Some Races

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Might this be a year when independents determine the outcome of some of our top federal races? It could happen.
Whenever there are open federal seats, independent and third-party candidates come out of the woodwork. This year, in addition to having four congressional vacancies in New Mexico, there also is no incumbent president.
At the presidential level , expect to see more than two candidates on your ballot next November. Along with the usual selection of anonymous lightweights will be a couple of candidates approaching the middleweight class.
The Libertarian Party tried to get Texas Rep. Ron Paul as its presidential candidate, Paul, definitely a Libertarian by philosophy, said he preferred to stick with the Republican Party.
Paul raised so much money through the Internet that he saw the possibility of ending up as the last man standing. If he could make it happen, he knew he would be infinitely better off running as a Republican in the general election.
But that didn't happen. GOP leaders rushed to close all doors possible. And although Paul polled in the teens in most states, he won't even receive an invitation to speak at the national convention. Libertarians don't think war solves any problems and Rep. Paul would be sure to deliver that message.
So the national Libertarian Party nominated former Republican congressman Bob Barr from Georgia. Barr gained national prominence as a floor manager for the effort to impeach President Bill Clinton.
Barr lost his House seat through redistricting. A longtime champion of privacy rights, he broke with the Republican Party over the Patriot Act and became a Libertarian in 2006.
Also in the presidential race is Ralph Nader, for the sixth time. Although Nader has run as a Green at times in the past, he is running as an independent this time.
Nader will take votes from the Democratic presidential candidate, just as he has done in the past. Many Democrats blame him for taking votes from Al Gore in key states that caused him to lose the Electoral College in 2000.
Barr will take votes from the Republican candidate, although not nearly as many as Ross Perot did in the Clinton era. The Constitution Party is running Chuck Baldwin, an evangelical preacher who believes Republicans are too liberal.
At the state level, the 3rd Congressional District will see two independent candidates. Carol Miller is running for her third time. The first time was when Rep. Bill Richardson vacated the seat to become United Nations ambassador.
The Democratic state central committee nominated controversial politico Eric Serna. Republicans nominated Los Alamos preacher Bill Redmond. Miller took 17 percent of the vote and Redmond won. Four years later, Tom Udall beat Redmond badly and Miller received four percent of the vote.
Miller ran as a Green Party member those two times. This time she is an independent. It isn't easy for an independent to get on the ballot. Almost 6,000 nominating petition signatures are required. Miller turned in over 11,000 along with a jab at Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature for making life so difficult on independents.
Ron Simmons, a Santa Fe contractor, is a former Democrat who became upset with superdelegates and left the party. He turned in nearly 8,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
Both Miller and Simmons have put in impressive efforts that could lead to many votes. Some have suggested that the divisive Democratic primary might make winner Ben Ray Lujan vulnerable to being picked off as Serna was 11 years ago.
Santa Fe teacher Zack Boatman attempted to run for the U.S. Senate by collecting over 16,000 signatures required of statewide candidates. He set up several Web sites to collect signatures and money but the task was too big. Had he made it, Boatman may have been able to position himself between Reps. Steve Pearce and Tom Udall as a moderate choice for New Mexicans.
MON, 6-16-08

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



Post a Comment

<< Home