The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle recently featured two independent candidates in Monroe County, New York, and gave an even-handed assessment of their campaigns and their chance at success. The article even included an oft-ignored aspect of third party politics – the potential for a candidate who loses the election to successfully inject an idea into political discourse.
Below is an excerpt, and you can read the full thing here.
Nazarian, 40, of Penfield, is one of just two people in Monroe County who is running as a third-party independent candidate for town supervisor. The other is Jeffrey Kueppers, 43, of Henrietta. Both are trying to draw attention to their platforms in crowded election fields.
Nazarian, on the Open Party line, faces Republican Tony LaFountain and Democrat Margaret Trevett in Tuesday’s election, while Kueppers is battling Republican incumbent Supervisor Michael Yudelson and Democratic opponent William Wu. Kueppers is running on the Bright Future line.
Taking on major parties isn’t easy in any election. Democratic and Republican candidates often have party machines assisting them with everything from fundraising to sending volunteers door to door. And candidates who form their own parties must collect more signatures to get on the ballot than constituted-party candidates, according to New York state law.
Victories for independent candidates are rare, be it at the national, state or local level, said Jeffrey Koch, chairman of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the State University College at Geneseo.
“The challenges are formidable,” Koch said. “Most people vote on the basis of their partisanship, and most people identify with either Democrats or Republicans.”
But winning on an independent, original party line is not impossible. Locally, in 1993, third-party candidate Michael Rowley beat his Republican and Democratic opponents in the Wheatland town supervisor race. He was running on the Wheatland Tax Reform party line, said Peter Quinn, Republican commissioner with the Monroe County Board of Elections. Two Town Board candidates also won on the same line that year.
Despite the odds — and historical trends — Nazarian believes he could win in Penfield.