Tom Horner And The Minnesota IP After The Election

The Independence Party candidate for Governor of Minnesota this cycle hasn’t just disappeared into the woodwork. Instead, he seems to be shifting into the job of party-building. From an op-ed in the Star Tribune:

Campaigns attract passionate and committed people. My campaign — and those of IP candidates before me — was no different. The challenge now is to keep all these talented people engaged, enhancing their skills and adding to their numbers. Two tasks are particularly important. First, the IP needs to develop bench strength in core campaign competencies, starting with fundraising. Second, a statewide network of grass-roots activists is essential.

The IP also should begin today to start recruiting candidates for the 2012 legislative races. One of the opportunities emerging from 2010 is how many local officials around the state endorsed the IP ticket and how many local offices were filled with men and women who consider themselves to be independents.

Along with recruiting good candidates comes the need for party discipline, including the hard decisions to not field candidates in some high-profile races. The first test of that discipline may be the 2012 race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Amy Klobuchar. If there isn’t a demonstrably better alternative to Sen. Klobuchar, why invest in a candidate?

Horner also speaks favorably of ranked choice voting in the piece, although he admits it is not a cure-all problem for third parties. Spearheaded by groups like FairVote and MPIRG, the coalition has already won RCV in Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Beyond the largest newspaper in the state, Horner also wrote an article for Minnesota Public Radio (where he used to be a regular contributor).

The MinnPost also has a great article on the future of the Minnesota Independence Party. It is a couple of weeks old, but its points are still relevant. Some interesting quotes:

When Horner became the IP candidate, [state party chair Jack] Uldrich told him that the party’s standing afforded him “a platform that [will make you] one of the three in the debate.”

And, of course, the critical access to hundreds of thousands of dollars in public campaign financing because of the IP’s major-party status.

While the IP ran an extensive slate of candidates, even those that Uldrich and other party faithful thought might do well in legislative races, didn’t. The IP ran seven state Senate candidates and 10 House candidates. Of those 27 challengers, two scored higher percentages in their races than Horner did in his. The rest were in single digits.

“It needs to be more focused,” Carlson said of the IP.

“The Independence Party isn’t going away,” said [former gubernatorial candidate Tim] Penny. “It’s a serious party. It deserves a place in our state’s politics.”

The Minnesota IP, by my estimation, is probably the second strongest state-level third party in the country. It has elected a handful of office-holders during its volatile lifetime, from Jesse Ventura to a cadre of party-switchers in the State Senate and House.

There is also an effort to nationalize the party, with IP director Michael Burger of Mankato a proponent. Burger is working with Independent Party groups and similar parties in more than 20 other states.

This part seems particularly interesting for readers at IPR. It was already known that the Minnesota IP helped the Florida Independence Party file paperwork to register as a party. Several states have Independent parties that served as vehicles for Ralph Nader’s ballot access across the country. We will have to wait and see if anything comes of the effort for 2012 and beyond.

Tom Horner ended with 12% the vote, or almost 250,000 votes.

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