Tag Archives: Third Party

DONEGAN: With GOP, Democrats in Turmoil, Libertarian Party Makes Historic Gains

The unexpected, meteoric rise of celebrity presidential candidate Donald Trump has torn the Republican Party asunder, causing many leading GOP politicos that once represented the party’s establishment and conservative wings to suggest that they might support a third-party candidate.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders has become the unlikely voice of a new younger generation of progressives that are fed up with the status quo that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton represents. Many freshly-inspired voters and activists have recently stepped into the political process only to feel themselves being stiff-armed by Democratic Party superdelegates, party insiders whose votes have more weight than those of rank-and-file voters.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: Debunking the Lesser-of-Two-Evils Voting Theory]

Amid these melees, America’s best organized third party, the Libertarian Party, has found itself suddenly achieving a series of victories that seemed impossible just a few years ago.

Earlier this month, the Libertarian Party became a ballot-qualified party in Oklahoma, a state with such mountainous ballot access restrictions that no third-party presidential candidate had appeared on the ballot there since the year 2000.

The party is also prepping for its first-ever nationally-televised presidential primary debate at 9 p.m. EST on Friday on Fox Business Network’s Stossel program.

Even more shocking is the fact that a recent national Monmouth University poll of registered voters which tested Libertarian Party frontrunner Gary Johnson against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump found Johnson at 11 percent support, just 4 percent shy of the 15 percent support level required to qualify for the general election presidential debates.

[DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

If former two-term Republican New Mexico Governor Johnson, a socially-liberal and fiscally-conservative self-made businessman, were to find himself in the general election debates with Trump and Clinton, he would be the only candidate onstage with executive experience in government, an unusual claim for a third party candidate to be able to make.

The only remaining Republican and Democratic primary candidates with executive experience are Ohio Gov. John Kasich on the Republican side and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who once served as mayor of Burlington, Vt., on the Democratic side.

The Libertarian Party’s organizational success has even reportedly caught the attention of some major-party candidates who dropped out of their primaries earlier this year.

Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark told The Washington Times on Wednesday, “We have been approached by candidates who have dropped out of the old party races about running on the Libertarian Party ticket. At this point, none of them have jumped in … but we have explored the options and talked to them about the logistics of it, what they would have to do, how they would be able to become part of the process.

Sarwick declined to say which candidates had approached the party.

In an unconventional political year in which the Republicans seem poised to nominate an unhinged celebrity that shouts profanities in speeches and the Democratic frontrunner is also facing the specter of a possible FBI indictment for mistakes that raise questions about her handling of classified national security information, the Libertarian Party’s current frontrunner might find himself in an opposite-day general election scenario where the third-party candidate is the only one who can emphasize his record as governor in an effort to cast himself and his party as more serious and presidential than the circus-like atmosphere of modern major-party politics. At a moment in which voters seem to prefer outsiders, the Libertarian Party can also play up its anti-establishment credibility as the best-organized third party alternative to what has been a generations-long Republican and Democratic stranglehold on U.S. politics.

For more election coverage, click here.

Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Crowd Chants ‘Let Her Speak’ As Green Party Candidate Forcibly Ejected from Debate

Dr. Margaret Flowers, a Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, was physically ejected from a Monday Goucher College senatorial debate featuring Republican and Democratic candidates after she took the stage in defiance of a last-minute rule change that reportedly caused her to be disinvited from the event.

Dramatic footage seen above captured the moment when audience members chanted “Let her speak” as she was being forced out of the building. Some audience members rushed the stage to argue in favor of allowing her to speak and were also subsequently ejected.

Dr. Flowers was invited by the Baltimore Jewish Council to participate in early January. The forum had been scheduled for February 24th and Flowers accepted the invitation. Two weeks later the forum was delayed to March 28th and Flowers was once again invited to the rescheduled event. At the time, no conditions were placed on the invitation. In mid-March, Flowers was informed that she was no longer invited to participate in the event,” claimed a press release by the Flowers campaign.

[RELATED: Green Party’s Stein Seeks Collaboration with Sanders, Calls Clinton ‘Warmonger’]

Saying that too many candidates had accepted debate invitations, the Baltimore Jewish Council reportedly adjusted its debate criteria, requiring candidates to be participants in a contested primary on the ballot who are polling at or above 5 percent.

However, the Green Party is not allowed to place its candidates on Maryland’s primary ballot, and no polls have been conducted which include Dr. Flowers.

I attempted to participate in tonight’s forum because there can be no democracy when voters aren’t allowed to hear from the candidates seeking public office. As a non-profit entity, the Baltimore Jewish Council has a responsibility to let all candidates speak. If it chooses to support a candidate or party over another, it should relinquish its non-profit status, act under the rules assigned to political advocacy groups and not solicit tax-deductible contributions,” said Dr. Flowers.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

Sarah Mersky of the Baltimore Jewish Council told The Real News in footage seen below, “Lots of people did respond, and, again, they were given the information and criteria just as Dr. Flowers was. So, obviously, you’re not going to have a forum with 30 people. No one has a forum with, I think, more than 5 or 6 candidates. And almost every one has just been [featuring Democratic candidates] Van Hollen and Edwards, so…

People are not aware of how corrupt the political system is, and it was made that way by the Republicans and the Democrats to exclude third party voices and that’s why we’re stuck in the box that we’re stuck in — because third parties can’t get through these obstacles,” said Dr. Flowers.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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Libertarian Party Obtains Ballot Access in Okla. for First Time Since 2000

The Libertarian Party just scored a major victory in its quest to fulfill candidate Gary Johnson’s promise that the party will be on the ballot in all 50 states as an alternative to the Republicans and Democrats in the 2016 presidential election.

Ballot Access News is reporting that the Oklahoma Election Board announced on Monday that it has verified the Libertarian Party’s petition to become a qualified party in the state, meaning that its presidential candidate will appear on the 2016 ballot and that its voters can register to vote as members of the party.

Only Republican and Democratic candidates have appeared on the Oklahoma presidential ballot in every election so far since the year 2000. The only political party to gain recognized party status since that time, the Americans Elect party in 2011, did not place a candidate on the ballot after doing so.

[RELATED: Libertarian Party of Maine Files Suit Seeking Recognized Party Status, Ballot Access]

Truth in Media reported last year on the fact that Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin had signed a bill into law in May of 2015 that reduced the number of signatures required for a third party to obtain qualified party status from 5 percent of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election to 3 percent.

Prior to that change in the law, the Libertarian Party called Oklahoma “one of the toughest states for ballot access.

According to The Associated Press, the Oklahoma Libertarian Party had submitted a petition with 42,000 signatures in February, above the 24,745 signatures required to meet the 3 percent rule.

We did it. Now we have to make it count,” said Oklahoma Libertarian Party vice chair Tina Kelly. She said that the party has a dozen in-state candidates that are planning to run for office, including two possible contenders for U.S. Senate.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

In order to remain a qualified party in future elections, the top LP candidate on the ballot must garner at least 10 percent of the vote, a steep hurdle for a party that drew one percent of the vote nationally in the 2012 presidential election. However, a bill that would reduce that threshold from 10 percent to 2.5 percent passed the Oklahoma Senate by a vote of 42-1 on March 10. It has been referred to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for consideration.

Election law expert Richard Winger of Ballot Access News wrote, “The most difficult petition requirement the Libertarian Party must now complete, in order to have its presidential nominee on the ballot in all states in 2016, is the Illinois requirement, 25,000 signatures.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Romney Says He Would ‘Write In a Name’ or Vote Third Party If Trump Wins GOP Nod

Following last Thursday’s speech in which former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican nominee for president Mitt Romney attempted to rally Republicans against Donald Trump’s candidacy for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination, Romney went even further and said that he would vote for a conservative alternative to Trump if the billionaire real estate mogul were to face off against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Romney told Bloomberg on Friday, “A person like Donald Trump, who has said what he’s said about Muslims, Mexicans, women, George Bush, John McCain, a person like that should not be the nominee of our party or be the president, and I will campaign for an alternative to Donald Trump until that avenue is no longer open.

[RELATED: Mitt Romney’s Full Speech on Donald Trump]

When asked how he would vote if the general election comes down to Trump versus Hillary, Romney said, “If those are my only two choices I’d vote for a conservative on the ballot — and if there weren’t one that I was comfortable with, I would write in a name.

I just know that Donald Trump isn’t the one I’d like to see lead our country and I don’t want to see Hillary Clinton lead our country, so I’m going to have the occasion to go to the voting booth and I’ll probably be writing in a name,” added Romney.

When reporter Mark Halperin suggested that millions of Americans might feel the same way, Romney replied, “I think there will be a lot of people who would be very troubled with those choices.

[RELATED: GOP Sen. Ben Sasse Says He Will Vote Third Party If Trump Wins Nomination]

On Sunday’s episode of Meet the Press on NBC, Romney doubled down on his opposition to a Trump candidacy, even if he is the Republican nominee. “I’m going to be voting [in the general election], but I’ll vote for someone on the ballot that I think is a real conservative and who will make us proud and I may write in a name if I can’t find such a person,” he said.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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Sanders Criticizes Two-Party System for Blocking Competition from Third Parties

At Thursday’s televised town hall among Democratic presidential candidates presented by MSNBC and Univision, Democratic presidential candidate and independent U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders was asked a question that touched on the viability of third parties under America’s de facto two-party electoral system.

During the town hall, first-time voter Aidan Char asked Sen. Sanders, “So seeing that it is — as it is nearly impossible for a third party candidate to be elected and the fact you had to switch from an Independent to Democratic to be considered as a legitimate candidate, since reformation of our party system has never been addressed by a presidential candidate, how would you suggest to reform our system and allow for other parties and ideas to be represented?

[RELATED: Illinois Libertarian Party Wins Ballot Access Fight in Federal Court]

Well, I probably know more about that issue than any human being in the United States of America,” replied Sanders. “You know, when I became mayor of the city of Burlington, I had to take on Democrats and Republicans and so forth. Your point is well taken. I chose to run, proudly, in the Democratic primary and caucus process and I look forward to winning that process, but clearly, as a nation, I think we flourish when there are different ideas out there, when there are more differences of opinions.

He continued, “If you go to Europe, for example, there are many, many political parties. Sometimes the two-party system makes it very, very difficult to get on the ballot if you are a third party, and I think that’s wrong. I think we should welcome competition, welcome different ideas. And I think the two parties should be open to making sure that people have a fair shake if they want to run on another party.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

According to The Hill, Sen. Sanders, a political independent who caucuses with Democrats, has served for longer than any other independent in the history of the U.S. Congress.

For context, in July of 2015 the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video highlighting the fact that independent voters, who incidentally are forced to fund major-party presidential primary elections that often fail to represent them, now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Illinois Libertarian Party Wins Ballot Access Fight in Federal Court

The Libertarian Party of Illinois has won a battle in the state-by-state fight to repeal laws preventing the rise of a viable third party in the U.S., as it has prevailed in its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Illinois’ full-slate ballot access restriction.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Andrea R. Wood overturned the law, declaring it unconstitutional, in a motion for summary judgment.

Election law expert Richard Winger of Ballot Access News wrote, describing the now-overturned law, “[The full slate law] forced newly-qualifying parties to run a full slate of statewide candidates, whether they wanted to or not. For example, in midterm years, it forced such parties to run for Attorney General, if they wanted to run for Governor, even though the party might not have a qualified candidate for Attorney General (only attorneys can run for that position). In county partisan elections, it forced parties that wanted to run for any countywide executive positions to run for State’s Attorney.”

[RELATED: Libertarian Party of Maine Files Suit Seeking Recognized Party Status, Ballot Access]

Winger noted that the “full-slate law was passed in 1931” and suggested that “it was probably passed to thwart the Communist Party.

Libertarian Party of Illinois chairman Lex Green told NPR, explaining the challenges that had been caused by the law, “If the Libertarian party, or the Green Party, or the Constitution Party, or any other new party would want to run for governor, they would also have to find a qualified candidates for Attorney General, and a candidate for Secretary of State, Comptroller, etc… I personally think that it is all political maneuvering to keep the Democrats and Republicans in power in Illinois.

So we just asked that we be put on equal footing with the Democrats and the Republicans,” Green added.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

The Illinois Libertarian Party had originally filed the lawsuit in 2012. Judge Wood has not yet published a decision explaining her rationale behind declaring the law unconstitutional.

A July 2015 Truth in Media Consider This video highlights the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Jim Webb Announces That He Will Not Launch Independent Presidential Bid

Former Democratic U.S. Senator from Virginia and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb announced on Thursday that he has decided against sparking an independent campaign for president of the United States.

Even though this is a conceivable thing, we are not able to put together the kind of funding that would allow us to get on the ballots during this period of time and to actually run a campaign that could seriously look at the presidency,” said Webb at Thursday’s announcement at the World Affairs Council in Dallas, Texas according to The Dallas Morning News.

Webb added, seemingly indicating that he is not yet planning to endorse another candidate, “We have not had a clear statement of national security policy since the end of the Cold War, and I see no one running for president today who has a firm understanding of the elements necessary to build a national strategy.

In July of 2015, Webb announced that he would seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. However, he failed to gain traction within the party and dropped out of its primary in October of 2015.

[RELATED: Jim Webb Accuses CNN of Rigging Democratic Debate to Benefit Sanders, Clinton]

As Webb withdrew from the primary, he complained that party officials and debate moderators were rigging the process for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and that his “views on many issues are not compatible with the power structure and nominating base of the Democratic Party.” Those complaints are what Webb said initially led him to consider an independent run.

Politico notes that Webb’s campaign only raised $68,000 in the last quarter of 2015.

The Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video in July of 2015 highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


For more election coverage, click here.

Poll: Should Third Party Candidates be Allowed in the General Election Debates?

Officials in charge of the Commission on Presidential Debates say that due to the mood of the electorate, they are preparing for the possibility that a third-party candidate will emerge who obtains sufficient support to qualify for the 2016 general election presidential debates.

According to The Washington Post, in an interview that will appear on a Jan. 24 episode of The Open Mind, Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair Michael McCurry reportedly told host Alexander Heffner, “The dynamic in the electorate right now and the dissatisfaction with the two major political parties could…”




Commission on Presidential Debates Preps for Possible Third-Party in 2016 Debates

Officials in charge of the Commission on Presidential Debates say that due to the mood of the electorate, they are preparing for the possibility that a third-party candidate will emerge who obtains sufficient support to qualify for the 2016 general election presidential debates.

According to The Washington Post, in an interview that will appear on a Jan. 24 episode of The Open Mind, Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair Michael McCurry reportedly told host Alexander Heffner, “The dynamic in the electorate right now and the dissatisfaction with the two major political parties could very conceivably allow an independent or a third-party candidate to emerge, and we are very clear that they would be welcome in these debates.

CPD co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., who said that he thinks “it would be great” if a third-party candidate were to qualify, said that the commission spent months considering a change to the rule that requires independent candidates to obtain at least 15 percent support in national polls in order to qualify to participate in the 2016 general election debates, but that it ultimately decided to keep it in place.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

Critics of the rule say that it has prevented any third-party candidates from qualifying for the general election debates since 1992, when Ross Perot took on former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

However, despite having chosen to keep that rule in place, the co-chairs of the CPD reportedly believe that, depending on who wins the Republican and Democratic primaries, 2016 might be a year in which a prominent third-party candidate responds to voter demand, enters the race, and qualifies for the general election debates.

Characterizing the CPD co-chairs’ views in the wake of his interview, Open Mind host Heffner told The Washington Post, “I think they’re aware of the Trump revolution, or whatever you want to call it — the microphone that the media has provided for Trump. The two-party system, to many Americans, has disillusioned them to the point of questioning whether this is a democracy. And these men have a role to play in determining who is on that stage.

[RELATED: Pollsters Criticize Use of Polling Minimums to Exclude Candidates from Debates]

Some pundits theorize that Donald Trump might defy his pledge to the GOP and run as an independent if he loses the Republican primary. A Trump primary win on the other hand might leave an opening for another right-leaning third-party candidate. A Bernie Sanders loss in the Democratic primary could leave a significant number of disaffected progressives up for grabs for a high-profile independent.

Meanwhile, the bench of apparent 2016 third-party candidates is already loaded with higher-profile candidates than in previous elections. Former U.S. Senator from Virginia Jim Webb quit the Democratic primary last year and is considering an independent run, and a University of Mary Washington poll found him at double digit support in Virginia as an independent in several match-ups against various combinations of possible Republican and Democratic nominees. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg recently hired pollsters to test how he might fare as an independent alternative to a Trump vs. Clinton general election match-up.

The Libertarian Party has gone from running lesser known activists as candidates, such as Michael Badnarik in 2004, to having serious candidates with executive experience, like former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, in its stable. According to CBS Minnesota, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura is considering a run for the Libertarian Party’s nomination, meaning the party’s 2016 primary debates might involve a showdown between a group of candidates including more than one former governor.

In July of last year, the Truth in Media project released a Consider This video pointing out the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. For context, watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Maine Sec. of State Rejects Libertarian Party’s Application for Ballot Access

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office announced on Dec. 9 that the Libertarian Party is not considered a qualified party for ballot access.

State law requires minor parties to prove that they have at least 5,000 members by Dec. 1 of the year prior to an election in order to obtain ballot access. The Libertarian Party of Maine submitted 6,400 party registration cards on Dec. 1 of 2015, but the request for ballot access was reportedly rejected when officials failed to process all of the submitted cards in advance of the deadline.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

By the end of the day on Dec. 1, Maine officials had only processed 4,489 of the Libertarian Party’s registration cards, leaving the official count just shy of the required number, despite the fact that almost 2,000 more of the party’s registration cards had been submitted but not processed.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger, an expert on U.S. election law, suggested that the Libertarian Party might have grounds for a legal challenge against the ruling and wrote, “It is extremely likely that the December 1 deadline is unconstitutionally early. Courts have struck down early petition or registration deadlines for a group to qualify for party status in Alabama (April was too early), Arkansas (January was too early), California (January was too early), Idaho (May was too early), Nebraska (February was too early), Nevada (April was too early), New Mexico (April was too early), Ohio (November of the year before the election was too early), South Dakota (February was too early), and Tennessee (April was too early). All of those were procedures to qualify a party, not procedures for candidates.

He added, “The earliest deadline for a new party to qualify that was upheld [in the courts] was the Alabama March deadline, but the reason it was upheld was that Alabama had its primary for all office in March. In the past, when Alabama had a June primary for all office, the April petition deadline was held unconstitutional. The Maine primary is June 14, 2016.

Winger also noted that, in the case of general election ballot access qualifications for individual independent candidates, “A US District Court invalidated Maine’s non-presidential independent candidate petition deadline of April in Stoddard v Quinn, in 1984.

For context, the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video in July of 2015 highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Conflict of Interest? Bill Clinton Serves on Presidential Debate Commission

As the 2016 presidential election draws nearer, questions are being raised about Bill Clinton’s role as an honorary co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, a Republican-and-Democrat controlled board that determines the rules and particulars of U.S. general election presidential debates.

According to The Daily Caller, Bill Clinton serves as an honorary co-chair for the organization along with former President Jimmy Carter. The CPD also lists deceased former Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford as honorary co-chairs.

It is unclear, however, how Carter and Clinton function in these roles,” wrote reporter Kerry Picket. “Additionally, considering Jeb Bush’s run for the presidency, if it is an issue of simply lending one’s name to a board and not participating in any process, it is unknown why both former presidents George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush are not included as honorary chairs,” she added.

Hot Air notes that CPD chairman Michael D. McCurry served as press secretary during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

If current Democratic Party presidential primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton ends up winning her party’s nomination, Bill Clinton and Michael McCurry’s roles on the board governing U.S. general election presidential debates could potentially pose a conflict of interest.

The Commission on Presidential Debates recently sparked controversy when it announced that despite the rise of independent voters as a leading portion of the U.S. electorate, it would not change the 15 percent minimum polling rule that effectively blocks most serious third-party candidates who appear on enough ballots to win the presidency from participating in general election presidential debates.

[RELATED: Pollsters Criticize Use of Polling Minimums to Exclude Candidates from Debates]

The Truth in Media Project recently released a Consider This video highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates

Wednesday’s prime-time CNN Republican presidential debate featuring 11 candidates was the “most watched” program in the news network’s history. According to CNN, an average of 22.9 million viewers tuned in and heard Republican presidential candidates debating the issues.

Meanwhile, based on claims that doing otherwise would overload the general election stage with too many candidates, the Commission on Presidential Debates’ rule requiring third-party candidates to garner a minimum of 15 percent support in five major nationwide polls prior to being included in a general election presidential debate effectively and pointlessly excludes the one or two third-party candidates each cycle who manage to achieve ballot access in enough states to have the possibility of winning the presidency. Obtaining ballot access is a Herculean challenge for independents as is, but only a candidate with extreme wealth like Ross Perot or Donald Trump could afford to purchase the amount of advertising necessary to achieve 15 percent in nationwide opinion polls without having the initial exposure of appearing in televised presidential debates.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger, an election law expert, wrote after Wednesday’s debate, “It is now as clear as anything that a debate with a large number of candidates can be successful. After tonight, there simply is no coherent argument for general election debates that only include the two major party nominees.

For those who fear that including all ballot-qualified presidential candidates in general election debates will result in a chaotic melee, Winger points out, “In all U.S. history, there has never been a presidential election in which more than seven candidates had enough presidential elector candidates to theoretically win the election.

[RELATED: Commission on Presidential Debates Considers Ditching 15% Rule for Third Party Candidates]

While Winger’s analysis shows that even in worst-case scenarios a larger debate field could be managed, looking back at 2012’s presidential election, if all ballot-qualified candidates had been included, the debates would have only featured four candidates: Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney, and Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama.

Currently, basing general election debate participation on the ability to obtain ballot access would likely allow Americans to hear a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Green candidate, four parties that encompass a broad range of ideological views in U.S. politics.

On the other hand, limiting the debates to only those candidates who have obtained at least 15 percent in five nationwide opinion polls has frozen third parties out of general election presidential debates and effectively created a two-party duopoly, disenfranchising independent voters and dimming Americans’ confidence in their political system.

The Commission on Presidential Debates should consider Winger’s analysis and accept the reality that it will always be possible to put together a coherent general election presidential debate featuring all of the candidates from parties organized well enough to achieve ballot access in enough states to where it is mathematically possible for them to obtain the 270 electoral votes required to become president.

The Republicans and Democrats in charge of the Commission on Presidential Debates can no longer claim that four candidates is too many when their own primary debates feature many more. It is time to change the rule and let voters hear from all of the small number of candidates each cycle who qualify under the law to potentially win the presidency.

For context, the Truth in Media Project recently released a Consider This video highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Federal Court: Tennessee Ballot Access Law Unfairly Burdens Third Parties

A July 2 decision by the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in a suit brought by Tennessee’s Green and Constitution parties has rendered a controversial ballot retention statute in the state unenforceable. According to The Tennessean, Chief Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. said in the decision, “Tennessee’s ballot-retention statute clearly imposes a heavier burden on minor parties than major parties by giving minor parties less time to obtain the same level of electoral success as established parties.

Under the law, Tennessee’s third parties are required to collect a number of signatures exceeding 2.5% of the number of Tennesseans who voted in the last gubernatorial election in order to gain ballot access and were also required to achieve at least 5% of the vote in a statewide race in the subsequent gubernatorial election in order to remain on the ballot. The combined burden of having to meet the high number of petition signatures while also being required to achieve the 5% electoral total within the same election cycle had the effect of forcing third parties to continue to repeatedly attempt to collect signatures to obtain and maintain ballot access while the Democratic and Republican parties remained on the ballot automatically. Major parties only have to meet that 5% threshold at some point during the previous four years in order to remain on the ballot, giving them more time to achieve the same electoral feat.

Green Party of Tennessee co-chair Kate Culver told The Tennessean, “This is huge for the potential for third parties to have a voice in the political arena. We know right now people are unhappy and disgruntled with the two major parties… There needs to be some way to get those voices heard.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger wrote, “The Sixth Circuit decision strikes down the vote test on Equal Protection grounds. Tennessee could easily repair this law if it said that newly-qualifying parties also don’t need to meet the vote test in their first election, but that they can meet the vote test in either of the party’s first two elections.

Though the federal appeals court’s decision does render the statute unenforceable, the court has no authority to dictate what the new process will be. Only the Tennessee General Assembly can implement a new ballot retention system. The state could also appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but is not expected to do so.

A spokesperson for the lawsuit’s defendant, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, said that the state is reviewing the court’s decision to determine what action it should take in response.

Richard Winger of Ballot Access news noted, “The Sixth Circuit also struck down the old Tennessee law that newly-qualifying parties must file a document saying they don’t advocate the violent overthrow of the government. The state had not tried to defend this law, except to argue that it isn’t enforced. However, the decision says the state ‘has not explicitly disavowed enforcing the oath in the future.’ The U.S. Supreme Court had struck all loyalty oaths for parties in 1974, but some states continue to keep them on the books. These states include California, Illinois, Kansas, and Arizona.

Group Sues FEC to Open Presidential Debates to Independent Candidates

(IVN) – Level the Playing Field (LPF), the group that is trying to improve the health of American democracy by opening up the fall 2016 presidential debates, filed a lawsuit this on Monday in federal district court against the Federal Election Commission. LPF was joined in the historic lawsuit by the Green Party and the Libertarian Party.

The plaintiffs are represented by Alexandra Shapiro, who was Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s law clerk and is now with the Shapiro Arato firm. Ms. Shapiro has won several high-profile cases lately, including an appeals court ruling in April that overturned two insider-trading convictions.

“The CPD is not nonpartisan and instead promotes the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties while excluding all others from the debates.”

The LPF lawsuit charges that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) and certain of its directors have violated federal election law, including a Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation requiring organizations like the CPD to be “nonpartisan” and to use “objective criteria” to determine who can be in their debates.

The federal court complaint cites extensive evidence showing that the CPD is not nonpartisan and instead promotes the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties while excluding all others from the debates. And since 2000, it has used a criterion that only the Democratic and Republican nominees could reasonably achieve, in order to illegally exclude third-party and independent candidates from the debates.

According to the lawsuit, the failure of the FEC — whose commissioners are members of the Democratic and Republican parties — to act on an administrative complaint against the CPD and a petition for rulemaking was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise contrary to law.

We are asking the court to either direct the FEC to find that the CPD and certain of its directors have violated the law, or to permit us to bring a civil action directly against the CPD and those directors. The suit also asks the court to direct the FEC to open a rulemaking proceeding to revise its rules governing presidential debates.

Read the full complaint:

Level the Playing Field, et al. v. FEC

Commission on Presidential Debates Considers Ditching 15% Rule for Third Party Candidates

BenSwann.com recently brought news of efforts by a coalition of high-profile civic leaders and current and former elected officials called Change the Rule to pressure the Commission on Presidential Debates to adjust its rule regarding the inclusion of third-party candidates in US presidential debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates, a private Republican-and-Democrat-run group which effectively controls the US presidential debate circuit, currently requires third-party candidates to obtain 15% support in 5 major public opinion polls before the presidential debate in question in order to be included, a feat considered impossible for a candidate lacking millions of dollars at the beginning of the campaign. As a result, third-party candidates that appear on enough ballots to potentially win the presidency, a challenging and expensive feat on its own, often do not appear in televised debates, giving them no chance to connect with voters. Change the Rule is working to encourage the CPD to adjust its rule such that any candidate that obtains ballot access in enough states to achieve 270 electoral votes and win the presidency would be included.

However, according to Ballot Access News, Change the Rule appears to be having some success. Ballot Access News‘ Richard Winger noticed some below-the-headlines quotes by Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed by Michael Smerconish that seem to suggest that CPD is considering, at a minimum, ditching the 15% rule.

Said CPD co-chair Fahrenkopf, who also once served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, “We’ll look hard at [Change the Rule’s recommendation], but we also have three or four other proposals as to whether or not to do away with the 15 percent rule… We’ve got a special committee of the board that will review it.”

However, Fahrenkopf raised his own reservations that Change the Rule’s specific recommendation to base inclusion on ballot access could also unfairly benefit the wealthiest candidates. “We also have to realize that’s expensive to do this. Each state has different rules as to how many petition signatures you have to receive to get on the ballot. So it’s ready-made here for someone who’s a millionaire or billionaire who can spend the money to hire the people to go out and get the signatures. These are the kind of things that we’re plowing through before we make any decision one way or the other. So there are some issues that we’ve got to resolve,” he said.

Third Party Success: Candidate Only Spent $36 on Campaign


Bob Healey, who ran for Governor of Rhode Island on the Moderate Party ticket, only spent $36 on his entire campaign.

According to Ballot Access News, Healey had “the best percentage of the vote for any minor party gubernatorial candidate in 2014.” So, even on a shoestring budget, he had some success.

PolitiFact investigated Healey’s claim and found it to be factual.

“I probably should have spent twice as much. I would have doubled my numbers and maybe be the governor,” said Healey on local radio.

Though he didn’t win, Healey still received 21.43 percent of the vote, which means that the Moderate Party will be ballot-qualified for the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Bob Healey spent $0.0005 for every vote which is a huge success.

Healey’s success was boosted by having equal access to a televised debate. See here.

Unfortunately, there were so many third-party candidates this year who were not invited to a televised debate.

C-SPAN reportedly retracted an agreement to air a gubernatorial debate in Colorado according to FreeandEqual.org. C-SPAN did not return our call for comment.

C-SPAN is publicly funded with tax payer dollars so why did they choose to air the debate with a third-party candidate in R.I. but not in C.O?

According to FreeandEqual.org’s website:

“Per C-SPAN’s request, Free and Equal overnighted an external hard drive to their offices — C-SPAN paid for the postage. A week later after leaving several messages, Free and Equal had not heard back from Ms. Rice. Free and Equal founder Christina Tobin contacted C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, senior executive producer, who said that he would look into the issue, and would put the video up on C-SPAN’s website. He followed up to say that C-SPAN would not air the debate, contrary to the original agreement. He first said it was because the major candidates did not attend. Then he said it was because they didn’t have room in their program schedule. Then he changed it to C-SPAN does not air material filmed by outside organizations, except for news organizations, despite the fact that the debate was was produced by news organizations Free Speech TV and the Open Media Foundation, in part for C-SPAN’s sake.”

FreeandEqual.org stated, “This is a direct contradiction of C-SPAN’s mission statement “To provide elected and appointed officials and others who would influence public policy a direct conduit to the audience without filtering or otherwise distorting their points of view.” Honest media is designed to remove political bias, providing viewers with a free and equal platform of choice. By preventing voters from hearing all ballot-qualified candidates, the media tilts the outcome of elections towards the establishment candidates and political parties. C-SPAN is taxpayer funded, a further mandate for impartiality and giving all candidates an equal voice. Americans turn to C-SPAN to hear from the voices who are ignored by corporate media.”

Should Third-Party candidates have equal access to televised debates as the two major parties do? Please comment below.

VIDEO: Mark Cuban has some blunt advice for Republicans

NEW YORK CITY, October 22, 2014 –  This morning Mark Cuban appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and offered some advice for the GOP while discussing politics and prosperity.

Cuban stated, “If I was going to give guidance to the Republican party, I’d say stay completely out of social issues and if you stay out of social issues the conversation from that side will only be around economics and business and growing business and ideas.”

During Cuban’s appearance on the show, one of the other panelists asked, “Why do you think that there’s so many people that you talk to in the world that say ‘I’m socially liberal, and economically conservative’ but there’s never been really a party, or there’s never been one of the parties that went that way? It seems like there’s so many people that believe that way.”

The billionaire investor and star of the show “Shark Tank” responded to the panelist’s question by stating, “I’ve been involved in efforts to create third parties and this and that and it’s just almost impossible.”

Cuban finished the segment stating, “But nothing’s completely impossible, hopefully somebody who’s got the piss and vinegar is going to step up and do it.”

You can watch the full segment from Mark Cuban’s appearance here.

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook & Twitter.

Exclusive Interview: Alaska Constitution Party Candidate To Appear on Governor Ballot


Alaskan voters will have another option for governor this November. For the first-time ever, the Alaskan Constitution Party will have a gubernatorial candidate on the ballot, as well as a candidate for lieutenant governor.

“This is really groundbreaking,” explained J.R. Myers, founder, chairman and now gubernatorial candidate for the Alaskan Constitution Party. “This is actually the first time the Alaska Constitution Party will have a candidate for governor and lieutenant governor, which also, interestingly coincides with the fact that it’s the first time in history the Democrats will not now have candidates for governor or lieutenant governor.”

The group, which has just over 200 members, was first recognized by the state in 2011. And due to state law, it is categorized not as a political party but a “political group.” Due to this fact, Myers and his running mate, Maria Rensel, had to collect signatures to appear on the ballot.

While gathering signatures, Myers was able to canvas would-be voters.

“Most people were very happy and excited to have a new choice on the ballot,” he explained.

Though running on the same ticket, Rensel and Myers had to campaign and gather signatures separately. He said in total the pair brought in approximately 9,000 names, exceeding the state election board’s requirements.

The group hopes that after this election their status, according to the state, will be upgraded to a political party, so they can nominate a candidate at a convention like the Republicans and Democrats.

Myers believes that the Alaska Constitution Party’s views are the right direction for the state.

“We’re rapidly approaching a time of economic constraints that has not been known in this state,” he explained. “Our biggest challenge is how do we reign in the government in a way that is not going to damage the economy.”

The Alaska Constitution Party’s holds a strong belief in the Constitution, as the name of the party implies.

“We believe in the rule of law and the Constitution-based government,” he said.

There may be other parties out there that may also believe they’re Constitution-based, but Myers wouldn’t agree.

“The GOP has failed to live up to their promises,” he added. “People want a party that is true to their principles. I wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea. We’re not a refugee camp for disgruntled Republicans, but we do have a lot of former Republicans in our midst.”

Myers champions limited government: “There are other ways to solve problems besides turning to the government over and over again,” he explained.

He is also a staunch believer in the Second Amendment: “I’m totally against federal encroachment of Second Amendment rights,” he added.

And for other hot-button issues like Common Core, Myers turns again to the Constitution: “Again it comes down to the Constitution. Where in the Constitution does it authorize the federal government to get involved in educational policy at the local and state level? Nowhere.

We need to get rid of the Department of Education, and we need to decentralize the educational structure so it is at the state and local control,” he said.

Myers described Common Core as a dumbing down program. “Common Core is more about creating a docile working class.”

Myers faces incumbent Governor Sean Parnell, a Republican, in November.

For more information on Myers and the Alaskan Constitution Party, visit his website at www.jr4gov.com.

To listen to the entire interview with J.R. Myers, click here.


Conservatives want Sarah Palin to lead new Third Party

What is being penned by the Talking Points Memo as an “ultra-conservative” Third Party, has been suggested by the former California assemblyman and conservative activist Steve Baldwin, and he wants Sarah Palin to lead the new party.

Baldwin wrote a piece for the online conservative-Christian website, Barbwire, saying the GOP has turned its back on the more conservative wing of the party as well as the Tea Party.

“It has become increasingly clear that the GOP leadership will do everything in its power to prevent the party from being influenced in any way by the Tea Party,” wrote Baldwin.  “I have given up on the GOP and am simply not sure it can ever be reformed.”

The newly proposed Third Party would be a conglomerate of Tea Party members and, what are being called by the Raw Story, “Christian extremists.”  Key issues the party would be centered around would be the elimination of all federal funding for abortions, defense of the 2nd amendment, and restricting special rights to citizens based on their sexual orientation or behavior.

Baldwin seems to believe Republicans in leadership roles throughout the government have done nothing but bicker amongst themselves when other issues are at hand.  Rather, Baldwin wants to “unite conservatives, libertarians, the Christian Right, and the Tea Party movement,” despite the differences between the party sects, in order to replace the Republican Party and be the main contender with with Democratic Party, according to TPM.

In terms of the leadership of the new party, Baldwin writes in his BW article how he would like to see “respected national conservative leaders such as Sarah Palin and others to lead the charge on such an effort.”

The plan to start the party though will not be a nationwide movement, but will consist of small, state-by-state operations to help boost support and establish the new party.  Baldwin hopes to start the movement in the state of Iowa and move outwards from there.

“Such an effort may take years but even the process of building a viable Third Party may be beneficial,” wrote Baldwin.  “Perhaps even the mere existence of such an effort will possibly save the GOP.”

A Libertarian Party Congressional Candidate Is Polling at 31 Percent

In the race for Florida’s 13th congressional district, an unusual set of circumstances has elevated a third-party candidate from the role of a spoiler to that of a serious challenger. According to a telephone poll of 1,121 likely voters conducted by StPetePolls, Libertarian Party candidate Lucas Overby is polling at an astonishing 31% in his race against incumbent Republican Congressman David Jolly. Overby is currently trailing Representative Jolly by 17%.

Democratic candidate Ed Jany dropped out of the race, making the CD-13 congressional contest a two-way affair between Republican Representative Jolly and his Libertarian Party challenger. During a previous special election, Lucas Overby demonstrated his fundraising chops with an impressive one-weekend, $10,000+ donation drive. Florida’s 13th congressional district is considered a possible swing seat. Though Republicans have held the seat in recent years, Barack Obama took the majority of the votes in the district in the 2012 presidential campaign, showing signs of a strong Democratic presence.

Noting the vacuum created by the absence of a Democratic challenger in the race, Overby has been reaching out to disaffected Democrats. According to the above-linked StPetePolls survey, his strategy has been working, as 43% of Democrats polled expressed their support for the Libertarian alternative. The Overby campaign hopes to secure the votes of more Democrats, independents, and disaffected Republicans by climbing further in the polls and demonstrating viability as a challenger against Jolly.

Third-party candidates often struggle to gain legitimacy and are viewed as spoilers or protest candidates. However, the “wasted vote” and “lesser-of-two-evils” arguments won’t come into play in this race, due the lack of a second major-party challenger. In comments published by Creative Loafing, Overby slammed Republicans, “I have never, ever found an area where a Republican candidate actually represented all of my ideals.” He also indicated that, in past elections, he has often sided with progressive Democrats due to their positions on social issues and civil liberties. This rhetorical move seems aimed at reaching across party lines to win the favor of left-leaning Pinellas County voters.

Lucas Overby has a long road ahead if he is going to defeat incumbent Republican Congressman David Jolly. That said, he has shattered the typical single-digit polling that third-party candidates usually receive. The circumstances surrounding his race are exactly the type of perfect storm that could produce an unusual outcome. Though he is certainly the underdog in the race, a rare third-party victory is within the realm of possibility.

Will he become the Libertarian Party’s first congressman in US history? Only time will tell. Regardless, this race for Florida’s 13th congressional district will be an interesting one to watch.