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PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:15 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2007 6:21 pm
Posts: 1288
Location: Washington State
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Here in Washington State, you can run for office under any party, even one you make up yourself:
Quote:
In quirky Wash. primary, offbeat
labels show big-party fatigue for
some candidates


By CURT WOODWARD , Associated Press

Last update: June 19, 2010 - 7:40 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Fed up with the
established political parties? In Washington
state, so are some of the candidates.

Encouraged by the state's unconventional
primary system, around 30 candidates on the
Aug. 17 ballot have shunned mainstream
politics to instead identify with very small or
apparently invented parties. Among them: the
"Lower Taxes Party," the "Bull Moose Party" —
or even "Neither Party."

The growing number of these candidates —
there are about twice as many on the ballot
as in 2008 — is a quirk of the state's "top-
two" primary system in which all candidates,
regardless of party affiliation, compete with
each other. The two garnering the most votes
for a given office advance to the November
general election.

First used two years ago following a voter
initiative, Washington's system allows
candidates to be listed on the ballot as
"preferring" any party they wish, though that
preference doesn't imply the candidate has
been nominated or endorsed by the party.

California recently adopted a similar open
primary system, but candidates there will not
list their party affiliation on the ballot.
Instead, a candidate's party registration
would be stated on the secretary of state's
website.

In Seattle, a stronghold of liberal Democrats,
Ray Carter is challenging a veteran state
representative with a self-styled party brand.

Opposed to the GOP's stance on gay rights
and really ticked off by the Democrats' fiscal
policies, Carter has signed up as "Prefers
Reluctantly R. Party" (a limit on the number of
characters meant he couldn't spell out
Republican.)

"I think that the number of people who are
bad fits for either party is increasing," said
Carter, who works for an electric-car seller.
"And I believe that both parties are going to
have to, after the election ... undergo some
wrenching self-examination."

Office-seekers can't use profanity on the
ballot but most anything else is fair game,
even though elections officials urge
candidates to avoid absurd or completely
invented party names.

Despite their efforts, the system appears to
be encouraging experiments in creative
political identification. The number of people
running under very small or invented party
labels has doubled in two years, with
Independents surging from just four to 15 in
two years. The tally does not count Greens or
Libertarians, who have some established
presence in Washington.

Most have only a tiny chance of beating an
establishment candidate this November. But
in a year that has proven volatile for
incumbents nationwide, antiestablishment
candidates provide another glimpse at the
foul mood awaiting political insiders at the
polls.

"In general, I think the parties have too much
power, and I don't think we need them
anymore," said Bob Jeffers-Schroder of
Seattle, a one-time Republican running as
"Independent - No Party" in a climate-
change-focused bid against Rep. Jim
McDermott, D-Wash. "I think they do more
harm than good."

With economic malaise running high, it's a
decent time to try those kind of candidacies,
Western Washington University political
science professor Todd Donovan said.

"Third-party, independent candidates get
more support when the economy's going bad
— people look for a protest vote," Donovan
said. "If you assume that there's candidates
who are savvy to that, it's a good time to get
on the ballot."

This year's crop of nontraditional candidates
also coincides with the rise of the tea party
movement, the fired-up conservatives who
often feel similar disdain for both big
government and establishment political
machines.

Among them is Rex Brocki of Union Gap, who
filed as "Prefers Tea Party" to challenge
longtime incumbent Congressman Doc
Hastings, R-Wash.

"What professional political operatives will
tell you is, (Republicans) don't have to worry
about pandering to their base because, in
their phrasing, 'Where else are they going to
go?'" Brocki said. "Well, that's why I'm
running: To give them somewhere else to go."

But even though cranky voters and upstart
candidates might grow in a difficult year, the
Democratic and Republican parties will
remain the default choices for most voters,
independent pollster Stuart Elway noted.

"The thing is, by the time we get down to
voting, it's two parties," Elway said. "We have
this two-party system, and it's all geared
toward funneling people into one of those
two parties. You can be frustrated with it, but
when November comes, that's your choice."

http://www.startribune.com/nation/96717 ... page=1&c=y


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