ABC 2002: Third-Party And Independent Candidates

On the other hand, the Chicago Sun Times reported that another independent candidate, Vietnam veteran Lloyd Meltz, managed to quality without submitting a single valid signature. Or a single signature at all. No one bothered to object.

Skinner served 14 terms in the Illinois House, representing Lakewood as a Republican. Previously, he was a federal government employee in the senior executive service. He says he left the GOP in 2000 because he found its message to be muddled by political compromise. Besides, he says, in his heart, he's always been a Libertarian.

Skinner knows he'll probably take votes from Ryan. The last gubernatorial race here was decided by less than two points — less than what Skinner polls today. He also knows he won't win. He wants to establish the party's credentials in the state as an alternative political organization for "leave us alone" Republicans.

12. Oregon Senate

Senator Gordon Smith (R) Secretary of State Bill Bradbury (D) Lou Mabon (Constitution)

Mabon, a cultural conservative known for spearheading anti-gay rights and pro-life ballot initiatives, ran for Senate in 1996 as a Republican, losing to Smith in the primary. Smith's support for ENDA, the employment non-discrimination act that would bar private businesses from unduly discriminating against gays, prompted Mabon to enter this race as a Constitution Party candidate.

Smith professes not to care.

Bradbury's still under funded candidacy has gotten some help: Democrats in Washington and interested groups like the Sierra Club, for example, have diverted some funds to the race. And former President Bill Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have campaigned on Bradbury's behalf.

As a result, Mabon's candidacy could make a difference in the outcome, if Bradbury can put the race in play.

An aside: national gay rights organizations HATE Mabon, but they're not going to get involved in this race because both Smith and Bradbury are generally supportive of their agenda.

Also worth noting: Libertarians are running Dan Fitzgerald, a physician.

13. Oregon governor:

Former state supreme court justice Ted Kulongowski (D) Former state legislator Kevin Mannix (R) Tom Cox (Libertarian)

Cox, a consultant, farmer, and former Libertarian party chair, polled about six percent through the summer, even though his candidacy had barely gotten off the ground. The party has a 14,000-strong voter registration base, but its summer convention managed to attract only 50 members.

We include Cox here because of his poll standing, because he has run for statewide office before, and because has managed to attract the non-dismissive attention of Republican candidate Mannix.

Other Senate races where third-party candidates are rising ever so slightly above obscurity:

South Dakota: Libertarian candidate Kurt Evans polls in the 1-2 percent range. Georgia: Vietnam veteran and technology executive Sandy Thomas is running as a Libertarian. Missouri: at least two other candidates are on the ballot. Colorado Senate: Rick Stanley is running as a Libertarian. If the race is tight, he could make a big difference.

Other gubernatorial races where third-party candidates are getting legitimate press coverage:

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