Third-party can­di­dates could de­cide Se­nate

Spoil­ers have lit­tle hope, lots of power

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

The list in­cludes a hu­morist, an Army re­servist and a pizza de­liv­ery driver. They run to the right of Repub­li­cans or to the left of Democrats, and some­times as lib­er­tar­i­ans who run simultaneously in both di­rec­tions.

In­de­pen­dent and third-party can­di­dates are on bal­lots in nearly ev­ery key Se­nate race this year, draw­ing support away from the Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can nom­i­nees and po­ten­tially hold­ing the power to de­cide which of the two ma­jor par­ties wins con­trol of the up­per cham­ber next month.

With poll num­bers con­sis­tently in the low sin­gle dig­its, third-party hope­fuls have vir­tu­ally no chance of win­ning in states such as Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Ken­tucky, where the ma­jor party can­di­dates are locked in tight con­tests, but they nev­er­the­less re­main fac­tors.

From the per­spec­tives of Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can can­di­dates, third-party can­di­dates are po­ten­tial spoil­ers.

In the tight Se­nate race in North Carolina, for ex­am­ple, Lib­er­tar­ian Party can­di­date Sean Haugh gar­nered about 4 per­cent of the vote in a Suf­folk Univer­sity poll last week.

Mr. Haugh, who de­liv­ers pizza and works part time re­selling books on Ama­zon, is run­ning as an anti-war deficit hawk and has been lur­ing sup­port­ers away from in­cum­bent Demo­crat Sen. Kay R. Ha­gan and Repub­li­can Thom Til­lis.

Mr. Haugh in­sisted that he is not a spoiler in the race.

“There are only three peo­ple in North Carolina who could pos­si­bly be the next U.S. se­na­tor, and I’m one of them,” he told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “How­ever many votes I get — win or lose — that’s a mes­sage to the Democrats and Repub­li­cans that they are go­ing to have to be­come more lib­er­tar­ian and they are go­ing to have to be­come more peace­ful if they want to ap­peal to those vot­ers in the fu­ture.”

Giv­ing vot­ers al­ter­na­tives

He said most of his sup­port­ers are fed up with both of the ma­jor par­ties and likely won’t back ei­ther Ms. Ha­gan or Mr. Til­lis. “I’m giv­ing peo­ple a rea­son to show up,” he said. “If I wasn’t on the bal­lot, a lot of peo­ple who are con­sid­er­ing vot­ing for me would skip it.”

The contest be­tween Ms. Ha­gan and Mr. Til­lis re­mains close, with Ms. Ha­gan lead­ing Mr. Til­lis 47 per­cent to 45 per­cent in the same Suf­folk poll.

Fur­ther com­pli­cat­ing the race, for­mer state Rep. John Rhodes has launched a write-in cam­paign as a tea party al­ter­na­tive to Mr. Til­lis.

“John Rhodes will def­i­nitely take votes away from Til­lis,” said Vallee Bubak, a con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist in Lake Nor­man, a bed­room com­mu­nity about 30 miles north of Char­lotte.

The spoiler ac­cu­sa­tion also has been lev­eled in Louisiana against Repub­li­can Rob Maness, a re­tired U.S. Air Force colonel who is run­ning as the con­ser­va­tive al­ter­na­tive to Rep. Bill Cas­sidy, the of­fi­cial Repub­li­can nom­i­nee.

The Repub­li­cans are vy­ing against each other and their chief tar­get, in­cum­bent Demo­cratic Sen. Mary L. Lan­drieu, in the state’s open elec­tion in Novem­ber. None of the can­di­dates is ex­pected to gar­ner the more than 50 per­cent of votes re­quired un­der state law to avoid a De­cem­ber runoff elec­tion.

Polls show Mr. Maness re­ceiv­ing 4 per­cent to 12 per­cent of the vote, help­ing force a runoff be­tween Ms. Lan­drieu and Mr. Cas­sidy.

Mr. Maness’ sup­port­ers have ar­gued against calls for him to quit the race by cit­ing elec­tion law that would keep him on the bal­lot but dis­qual­ify votes he re­ceived, which would di­min­ish the num­ber of bal­lots and make it eas­ier for Ms. Lan­drieu to get 50 per­cent.

“If putting more than 80,000 miles on his truck to visit ev­ery parish and talk di­rectly to vot­ers is what’s con­sid­ered a ‘spoiler’ in the race, then that just shows how back­wards things have got­ten in Wash­ing­ton,” said Maness cam­paign spokesman Jon Mead­ows.

Gain­ing mo­men­tum

Other third-party and in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates also say they are scrap­ing for votes just like the Democrats and Repub­li­cans on the bal­lots. Third par­ties,

“How­ever many votes I get — win or lose — that’s a mes­sage to the Democrats and Repub­li­cans that they are go­ing to have to be­come more lib­er­tar­ian and they are go­ing to have to be­come more peace­ful if they want to ap­peal to those vot­ers in the fu­ture.”

— Sean Haugh, North Carolina Lib­er­tar­ian Party can­di­date for U.S. Se­nate

es­pe­cially the Lib­er­tar­i­ans, are gain­ing mo­men­tum na­tion­wide.

The Lib­er­tar­ian Party has can­di­dates on bal­lots in 21 of 36 U.S. Se­nate races, in­clud­ing a dozen con­tests that will de­cide whether Repub­li­cans can net the six seats needed to seize majority con­trol of the cham­ber.

Some in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates rate as more than long shots. In Kansas, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee dropped out to give in­de­pen­dent busi­ness­man Greg Or­man a good chance at un­seat­ing long­time Repub­li­can Sen. Pat Roberts. Some polls give Mr. Or­man the edge. And for­mer GOP Sen. Larry Pressler, run­ning as an in­de­pen­dent, has re­cently made it a three­way bat­tle for the open South Dakota Se­nate seat with Repub­li­can Mike Rounds, a for­mer gov­er­nor, and Demo­crat Rick Wei­land.

Gary Nolan, a for­mer can­di­date for the Lib­er­tar­ian pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, said the Repub­li­can Party has only it­self to blame if it loses votes to a third-party can­di­date and misses its chance of cap­tur­ing a Se­nate majority.

“The Repub­li­cans may cause those losses but not the Lib­er­tar­i­ans,” said Mr. Nolan, a syn­di­cated ra­dio talk show host. “Just be­cause some­one presents a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive for vot­ers doesn’t mean that they are a spoiler. It just means that … you’re not do­ing what your sup­posed to do as a can­di­date and you’re los­ing support.”

In Colorado, hu­morist and Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date Gay­lon Kent got 2 per­cent of the vote in a Suf­folk Univer­sity poll last month. That is enough to af­fect the out­come of the neck-and-neck race be­tween in­cum­bent Demo­crat Mark Udall and Repub­li­can chal­lenger Rep. Cory Gard­ner.

The same survey showed just 1 per­cent­age point sep­a­rat­ing the ma­jor party can­di­dates, with Mr. Gard­ner lead­ing Mr. Udall 43 per­cent to 42 per­cent.

The Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date in Alaska, re­tired Army Re­serve Staff Sgt. Mark Fish, is tak­ing about 3 per­cent of the vote as in­cum­bent Demo­cratic Sen. Mark Begich strug­gles to hold on to his Se­nate seat.

Mr. Begich trailed Repub­li­can Dan Sul­li­van, a lawyer and re­tired Marine Corps of­fi­cer, 44 per­cent to 40 per­cent last week in a Fox News poll.

In­de­pen­dent can­di­date Ted Gianout­sos, who is run­ning almost ex­clu­sively on his pledge to open the Arc­tic Na­tional Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, took another 1 per­cent of the vote in the poll.

Not in­cluded in the polling but on the Alaska bal­lot is in­de­pen­dent Sid Hill, whom the Mat-Su Val­ley Fron­tiers­man in Wasilla de­scribed as a gad­fly who of­ten can be found on street cor­ners hold­ing a sign call­ing for im­peach­ment of Pres­i­dent Obama.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Lib­er­tar­ian Party can­di­date Sean Haugh gets in the mid­dle of a tight race be­tween Demo­cratic Sen. Kay R. Ha­gan and Repub­li­can chal­lenger Thom Til­lis. He said most of his sup­port­ers are fed up with the ma­jor par­ties.

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