Independent Gets On NC Ballot Thanks to SEIU, Then Declines to Run

Richard Winger reports that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) collected over 35,000 signatures to put Wendell Fant on the North Carolina ballot as an Independent

The independent candidate petition to place Wendell Fant on the November 2010 ballot in North Carolina’s U.S. House district 8 does have enough valid signatures.  The law required 16,929 valid signatures.  The campaign handed in 35,450 raw signatures, and 21,084 were valid.  The validity rate was 59.5%.

This success sets a new nationwide record for the most difficult petition requirement that has ever been met, for the purpose of placing a candidate on the ballot for U.S. House.  The previous record was set in Ohio in 1954, when independent incumbent Frazier Reams overcame a signature requirement of 12,919 valid signatures.  There was also one instance in Illinois which was higher than 12,919, but in that Illinois instance, the petition was never checked because it was not challenged.

However, it appears Fant has no intention of running. Apparently he was never asked and never even hinted that he would be willing to run for U.S. House as an Independent.

Concord Democrat Wendell Fant announced today that he won’t run as a 3rd party challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell.

Fant said he decided to “put my family ahead of my own political ambitions.”

A group called N.C. Families First successfully petitioned election boards throughout the 8th District in support of Fant’s candidacy. Backed by the State Employees Association of North Carolina and the Service Employees International Union, the group opposes Kissell because of his votes against some major Democratic legislation, particularly health care.

Fant’s decision means the group will not appear on 8th District ballots this fall.

“I am honored that so many voters in the 8th District wanted me to be an advocate for working families,” he said in a statement.

“The message they sent to our member of Congress is clear: Never forget working families as you make decisions in Washington that affect their lives here, in Concord, and Fayetteville and throughout the district.”

This effort was organized out of opposition to Rep. Kissell, who voted against the healthcare bill. The SEIU organized an effort to qualify a left-leaning third party for the ballot called North Carolina First Party, but failed to qualify for the ballot.

11 thoughts on “Independent Gets On NC Ballot Thanks to SEIU, Then Declines to Run

  1. Vaughn

    Under (Democrat) pressure,
    Pressing down on me,
    Pressing down on you…

    Did you really think the corporations that fund the Democrat Party would be okay with a purely union backed candidate? It’s been a century and this shows that we need a new Progressive Party.

  2. Kimberly Wilder

    I wonder what the whole story is. Is Fant the only one being insincere?

    In NY, if someone got a candidate on the ballot by petitioning, and that candidate declined, there would be a way to put on a replacement candidate. Either “the party” that wrote up the petitions and/or a “committee on vacancies” on the petition could choose a new candidate in a certain amount of time.

    Seems like if the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was serious about running a challenger, they would have some backup plan such as that. Though, again, I don’t know the rules and policies on petitions in North Carolina.

  3. Ross

    I think SEIU and the Working Families Party are still planning on running a candidate against a Democratic Congressman from New York for voting against the health care bill. So we’ll see what happens with that.

  4. Green Party Conservative

    Thanks for this story. Interesting.

    I’ve been talking with Green Party leaders in North Carolina. Was down there on the border over the weekend..

    This should be seen in the larger context of previous Green Party efforts. First these are complex, difficult processes. Building a political party is not for the weak hearted.

    The unforseen leaps at you every day.

    Both ballot access efforts this year statewide in North Carolina, and this House race it appears were not planned as well as one might have hoped.

    Nor did they start as early as one might have wished.

    The positive lesson now for the North Carolina Green Party and the SEIU is simple. Start working now on 2011, and 2012. Pick your candidates. Get to work on those signatures.

    In such massive signature drives a state Green Party always learns what electors, petition gatherers, and candidates are responsible, and reliable. The political game is just too difficult for some…Sad, but true.

    Start working on next year …now…

  5. Dave Schwab

    They didn’t even ask the candidate if he would run before gathering 35k signatures? This confirms my suspicion that SEIU is not serious, so far at least, about independent politics in NC. If labor joined forces with the Green Party, we could have a formidable independent progressive electoral force. Playing games with the corporate-owned Democratic Party is just a waste of time.

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