Third party politics seem to be flourishing in Schenectady County. The Alliance Party, founded by Roger Hull, is poised to stage a third party threat to city politics. In Town of Rotterdam politics, the No New Tax Party (NNTP) will re-emerge with a return appearance by Brian McGarry. Both men announced their intentions for 2011 pre-Christmas 2010 and have indicated that they would be announcing full candidate slates eventually.
I am intrigued by these developments and will be paying close attention to their evolution. My immediate question regarding these announcements is whether they will be true “independent” endeavors or morph into some hybrid of the two-party state. By that, I mean will they be seeking cross endorsements from the major parties or solely go their own way? This was an aspect I wrestled with to some degree during the first NNTP run. After my previous experience, I prefer a pure independent approach.
From newspaper reports so far, it appears the Alliance Party does not intend to seek any cross endorsements (though I suppose that doesn’t mean they won’t receive any) while the NNTP will be seeking major party endorsements (though that doesn’t mean they’ll receive any) in addition to their independent ballot line. Of course, both efforts will face the daunting task of actually creating their own independent ballot line regardless of whatever endorsements they might receive. Success or failure at that endeavor is really the important wild card either way.
Concern starts creeping in depending on how all of this ultimately unfolds. My whole life revolves around a notion of being “not beholden.” I believe cross endorsements can taint that. The major parties don’t relinquish power easily – they want to pick their own candidates – not be dictated to. Making nice to secure additional ballot lines runs counter to what should be the underlying motivation to create an independent ballot line anyway, in my mind. If major lines are deemed a desirable advantage, then simply primary for them, much like I did in 2009 (much to the Republican Party bosses’ dismay when I won.) My point is that if you think you have appeal to a major party voter base, then appeal to it through a contested primary, independent of party power bosses. Even this approach has a downside though as some people will start to question “your real stripe.”
Of course, I’m not a politician – and politicians and their strategists will tell you my approach is a losing one. (Hey – I lost – they must be right.) I wonder why the major parties are so intent then on trying to usurp independent efforts. Quite simply, it’s because they recognize the threat and are quick to try to diminish it through absorption, if possible, or outright dismissal, if necessary.