Tag Archives: Independent

Sanders’ Problem as an Independent

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — an Independent, not a Democrat

Feb. 22, 2019 — A day after announcing his entry into the 2020 presidential campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped off to a strong start, raising a reported $6 million in just his first 24 hours as a repeat candidate. But, a technical problem also looms in the distance.

Last year, the Democratic National Committee adopted a new party rule that states any future presidential nominee must be an official Democratic Party member or, if an office holder, must have served as a Democrat. Sen. Sanders meets neither requirement.

Vermont has no party registration, so he is not a party member in that regard, and has continually, including during the present time, represented Vermont as an Independent. In fact, when offered the Vermont Democratic senatorial nomination for his re-election campaign in 2018, Sanders turned down the overture.

The fact that Sanders is still not a Democrat is confirmed when looking at the list of unpledged delegate slots, those commonly referred to as “Super Delegates.” An unpledged delegate is one who can vote as he or she pleases and is not subject to any binding vote law their particular state may have enacted.

Those who qualify as Super Delegates are Democratic National Committee members (430), every elected Democratic US senator (45), the two District of Columbia “Shadow” senators, all elected Dems in the House of Representatives (235 at the present time), the four Democratic delegates to the US House (District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, and the US Virgin Islands), and all of the party’s elected governors (26, including the District of Columbia mayor, and the territorial governors from American Samoa and Puerto Rico).

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Trump Bangs Independent Drum

Feb. 17, 2016 — Donald Trump is publicly accusing the Republican National Committee leadership of being “in default of their pledge.” Earlier in the cycle, Trump and the committee hierarchy agreed via signed document that no Independent candidacy would be launched should he fail to capture the GOP presidential nomination and, in return, the party leaders would not erect any artificial impediments or enact rules designed to gut his Republican candidacy.

Trump, the early GOP delegate leader, is crying foul over the audience loudly booing him several times during the CBS Republican presidential debate from South Carolina last Saturday night. The candidate claims the RNC gave all the live viewing tickets to “special interest lobbyists”, thereby stacking the audience in an effort to make him look bad.

Yesterday, Trump held a news conference and called upon the media to remember his comments pertaining to his view that the RNC is breaking the pledge. Trump was clearly putting the option of running as an Independent back on the table under the justification that RNC personnel had violated the agreement terms.

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Bloomberg Considers Another Run

Jan. 26, 2016 — For the third time, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering a potential Independent run for president.

The New York Times is reporting that Bloomberg has hired a team of political consultants to begin examining his ability to qualify for the ballot as an Independent candidate in all 50 states. Doing so is no easy feat –- the major parties constructed and passed laws at the state level that effectively limit easy ballot qualification to the Democrats and Republicans -– and the Times reports the advisors are telling Bloomberg that he would have to launch his effort no later than March if he is to have any chance of attaining national ballot placement.

The same reports suggest that Bloomberg would be willing to spend as much as $1 billion of his personal fortune – his personal wealth is estimated to be in the $41 billion range – on a national campaign. But, can even a well-funded Independent have any chance of winning the presidency? Probably not.

We turn back to 1992, the last time an Independent attracted any significant vote. Then, businessman Ross Perot, running on the Reform Party ticket, captured 19 percent of the popular vote nationally, the best third party candidate showing since Teddy Roosevelt tallied 27 percent as the Progressive Party nominee in 1912.

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Webb Out; Jolly Crashes

Oct. 23, 2015 — Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb, the former US senator (Virginia) who spent most of last week’s debate time complaining that he wasn’t getting enough attention, has dropped his bid for the party nomination. He leaves the door open to enter the general election campaign as an Independent.

The move does little to affect the race. The three most irrelevant presidential participants in this 2016 contest are the trio of Democratic minor candidates: Webb, former governor and senator, Lincoln Chafee (D-RI), and ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. None of them have moved the political needle one iota since joining the race months ago.

Webb running as an Independent is also likely to have little impact. Qualifying for the ballot in all 50 states as an Independent presidential candidate is not an easy task. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the former Democratic presidential candidate will be able to raise the money and develop a national organization strong enough even to obtain ballot position.

Should he qualify, he is unlikely to become a major factor, and not the type of Independent candidate that will take a large share of the vote away from a particular candidate. Because he has straddled the ideological spectrum, first as a Republican US Navy Secretary in the Reagan Administration, and then all the way to becoming a Democratic senator, it is plausible that Webb’s few general election votes could potentially be evenly split between the two major party nominees.

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Connecticut Comes Alive

Rep. Chris Murphy

The Connecticut Senate race may be twisting in a new direction. After several post-primary polls have shown Republican challenger Linda McMahon pulling closer to Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT-5), a personal financial situation could potentially put some wind at her back.

The McMahon campaign has filed an outside ethics complaint against Congressman Murphy, saying that he received preferential loan consideration in return for supporting TARP, the creation of which eventually led to a multi-million dollar loan for the bank in question. The Stamford Advocate, a publication supporting Murphy, details the financial history of the congressman missing some mortgage payments before his election to the House, which resulted in foreclosure process initiation. He later received a home equity loan, but only after the original loan was paid in full. According to financial professionals that the Advocate interviewed, nothing appeared improper about Murphy’s loan and the bank’s action in his regard. McMahon’s people counter that an average citizen who earlier faced foreclosure proceedings would not have qualified for another loan.

In addition to the Murphy finances controversy, McMahon also secured the Connecticut Independent Party designation, so her name will appear twice on the Senatorial ballot. This development could well mean more than a day or two of soon-forgotten media coverage over Murphy’s loan history, as the Independent line can account for several percentage points.

Though McMahon lost to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) 55-43 percent two years ago, she does appear to be trending upward now. Rep. Murphy remains the favorite, however, regardless of the budding financial controversy. The Democratic nature of the state, particularly in a presidential election year, will pay major dividends for the congressman. The race should still be rated as Lean Democratic, but it does merit further attention at least in the short term.