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Green, Libertarian, Constitution Party legislative candidates beat records going back decades

Compiled from Ballot Access News:

Indiana Libertarian 2010 Legislative Candidate Set Record Going Back at Least 85 Years

On November 2, 2010, Rex Bell, Libertarian nominee for Indiana State House, district 54, polled 20.78% of the vote in a race with both a Democrat and a Republican. That is the first time in at least 85 years that a minor party candidate for the Indiana legislature has polled over 20% of the vote in a race with both major parties.

The 54th district is in east central Indiana, and includes Henry and Wayne Counties, and a small part of Randolph County. Bell lives in Wayne County, where he placed ahead of the Democratic nominee. Bell’s wife, Susan Bell, has been elected as a Libertarian to local partisan office as a Judge, and the Libertarian Party has two other office-holders in that county who were elected in odd-year partisan elections.

Bell has run for this seat three times. The incumbent Republican has been in that seat since 1996. Bell received 14.31% in 2006, running against both a Democrat and a Republican. In 2008, the Democrats didn’t run anyone, and Bell polled 33.49% and carried eight of the 59 precincts in the district. In 2010, Bell rang the doorbells of a majority of voters in the district, and ran radio and newspaper ads. Here is his 2010 web page.

No minor party or independent candidate has been elected to the Indiana legislature since 1914, when two Progressive Party nominees were elected. Indiana has a straight-ticket device, which injures candidates who are running outside the two major parties.

Wisconsin Green 2010 Legislative Candidate Set Record Going Back 65 Years

On November 2, 2010, Wisconsin Green Party Assembly nominee Ben Manski received 31.11% of the vote, in a race with Democratic, Republican, and Constitution Party nominees as well. Manski placed second, well ahead of the Republican nominee, in the 77th district, centered in Madison.

That was the first time a minor party nominee for Wisconsin legislature had defeated one major party opponent since 1944, and also the first time since 1944 that a minor party legislative nominee in that state had exceeded 30% of the vote. Manski is Executive Director of Liberty Tree. He won the endorsement of the state’s long-serving Democratic Secretary of State, Doug La Follette. He was also endorsed by two Democrats who ran for that seat in the 2010 primary, by several unions, and by many local elected officials. Here is his campaign web page.

In 1944, the Progressive Party (a party that existed only in Wisconsin) had elected six Assembly members and a State Senator. In 1946 the Progressive Party disbanded and its leaders became Republicans.

Wisconsin is another state that uses a straight-ticket device, which always injures minor party candidates, especially when they are running for an office not near the top of the ballot. Manski calculates that he won more popular votes than any other candidate, among voters who did not use the straight-ticket device. There were no other Green Party nominees on the ballot in Wisconsin in 2010.

Nevada Constitution Party Set Record Going Back at least 90 Years

On November 2, 2010, Janine Hansen, the Constitution (Independent American) Party nominee for Assembly, 33rd district, received 30.43% of the vote and outpolled her Democratic Party opponent. This was the first time since at least 1920 that a minor party nominee for Nevada state legislature had outpolled one of the major party nominees, and the first time that one had polled over 30% of the vote in a race with both major parties.

One could say that in recent years, two Libertarian nominees for the Nevada legislature came closer to victory. In 1992 Tamara Clark polled 44.38% for State Senate in a two-party race; and in 2000 James Dan polled 45.27% for Assembly in a two-party race. But, as noted above, Hansen was running in a 3-party race.

The 33rd Assembly district includes Elko and Humboldt Counties in northeastern Nevada. Hansen has been a frequent candidate for public office in the last decade. She ran for U.S. House in 2002 and polled 3.60%; she ran again for the same office in 2004 and polled 3.65%. In 2006 she was the Constitution Party’s nominee for Secretary of State, and polled 7.03%. In all of these races, she had opponents from both major parties. In 2008 she ran for State Senate and polled 34.75% in a two-party race. She spent years as a lobbyist at the State Capitol, which has given her the experience and knowledge of state government to be a credible candidate.

The Constitution Party affiliate in Nevada is called the Independent American Party, which was founded in 1968 in Nevada. In 2010, it won four partisan county elections in Nevada. It was also strong in the 1970s. In 1974, one of its legislative nominees, Duane Porter, carried Pershing County, but Pershing County was only part of that district (the 37th Assembly district), and when the Humboldt County part of the district votes were added in, Porter came in third in the district as a whole.

No minor party has elected anyone to the Nevada legislature since 1914, when the Socialist Party elected one State Senator and one member of the Assembly. The Reno News & Review has this story, published January 13, about the party’s success in northeastern Nevada.

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One Comment

  1. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman January 18, 2011

    “Manski placed second, well ahead of the Republican nominee…”

    The Republican nominee for State Assembly in the 77th District was Dave Redick, who has run for office several times as a Libertarian Party candidate and has served as Chair of the Wisconsin Libertarian Party.

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