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RealClearPolitics - Articles - Laureen Oliver

Last Build Date: Mon, 04 Sep 2006 00:12:15 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Centrist Independents -- An Anomaly or a Trend?

Mon, 04 Sep 2006 00:12:15 -0600

To date, over 5,000 individuals have given contributions to Kinky Friedman's Independent bid for Governor of Texas. Now these aren't corporations, PACs, or special-interest groups trying to buy favor or votes from their local or state politicians. They're just individual Americans sending their personal checks to an Independent Candidate that says it like it is. Straight talkin' and straight shootin'. Sound impressive? Not half as impressive as the next two facts. Over 1,300, or more than 25%, of those contributors don't even live in the State of Texas and those 1,300 Americans represent someone from each of the 49 states outside of Texas; something that has never happened to an Independent Candidate in any statewide race. Now remember, Kinky is not a third party candidate or a fringe candidate. He's a Centrist Independent Candidate. So the question begs to be asked, "Is Kinky Friedman an anomaly or a trend?" As the Founder of the New York State Independence Party and a 15 year veteran and political advisor of Independent politics, I ask you "how many candidates have to run or have to win before the media, the pollsters and the news talk show hosts admit it's a trend? " When Governor Jesse Ventura of Minnesota did it, the country was shocked and treated it like a freak event. Why? Governor Angus King an Independent Governor of Maine did it twice and prior to him Governor Lowell Weicker did it in Connecticut. Then there was Tom Golisano, three time Independence Party Candidate for Governor of New York who didn't win, but whose gallant efforts helped to create the third largest party in New York and the largest Centrist political party in the country today. And he and his party were riddled with lawsuits in a state where there are more election lawsuits than any other state in the country. Then there was Republican State Senator H. Russ Potts of Virginia. One of Virginia's most powerful leading State Senators who left the party that had already left him to take an outside run as an Independent for Governor in 2005. As of today we need to add Senator Joe Lieberman, Connecticut's veteran Democrat, whose party rejected him because he was a moderate; an elected official who dared to break rank and file and vote outside of his party. Though his support for the war is a major issue and should not be taken lightly, his independent style and courage is what may win him the points needed to win in the general election. But, his real challenge in the general election are his own advisors. Democratic advisors do not know how to run Independent campaigns. They'll spend too much time convincing him to indirectly, and even directly, continue to court Democrats. He needs to stand up and say 'I'm running as Independent because that's what I am '. My advice to him is to remember what Mayor Rudy Giuliani once said, "To be locked in to partisan politics doesn't permit you to think clearly." Thank you Rudy. But let us not forgot the hundreds of Centrist Independent Candidates running this year all over the country; like Christy Mihos, another Republican turned Independent, who's running an outside bid for Governor of Massachusetts this year. Even more staggering are all the Independent Candidates across the country that have been denied ballot access because of our country's state election laws that were written with the direct aim to perpetuate the two-party system and to keep Independent Candidates and potential third parties from gaining ballot access. Then the day after every election you read about the disappointing low voter turnout. Why shouldn't there be low voter turn out? What real choices are there today? Most voters can't even distinguish a Republican from a Democrat anymore - they all sound alike. What do I think? As Independent Political Advisor to Kinky Friedman and the person who also oversaw his petition drive, I can tell you that there is one part of Kinky Friedman's campaign that truly is an anomaly. He has the largest grassroots supporters' database ever created outside of R[...]