Frank Rutherford, Independent Candidate for Wisconsin Assembly District 87
My favorite story of my campaign was near the end. I had two more signs left to set out. Most of the time, businesses won't let you put up signs or they have already lined up with the Republicans and Democrats, but I seem to be the exception. So I pulled up to a used car and repair shop to ask permission. Before I could reach his door, the owner came out and asked if he could help me.
While he got on with his work, I went into my introduction, and when I got to the last word—Independent—he quickly said, “You’re not going to win.” I replied, “That’s the general consensus.” He then asked, “Are you a liar?” The only thing I could think of was the truth, so I told him, “Not all the time.” “You’re not going to win," was his reply.
He then asked, "Do you have a big pile of money?" Before I could give him my opinion on money in politics, he said, "If you don't have a big pile of money and if you don't lie through your teeth, you won't win." I shot right back with, "How ‘bout giving me a fighting chance and let me put up my campaign sign in your ditch?”
To my surprise he looked up from the work he was doing while we were talking and with a big grin said, “Knock yourself out; you can put up as many as you like.”
What have I learned? Voter sentiment and voter habits can be a daunting thing to overcome. Getting your message out there is probably the most important thing in a campaign. Keep true to your beliefs and tell the truth even though you might think it’s the wrong answer at the time. Believe me when I tell you people right now want a better choice, a party that represents all people and individuals. Candidates that will do what they say they will in a campaign. The question is, are you ready to fill that need?
Ken Cannon, Reform Party Candidate for Kansas Governor
In retrospect, as I look back on our campaign for the governor's seat in Kansas, I would have to say that I would make two strong recommendations regarding the election process.
My first recommendation would be that when candidates are running for a major state office, that they would be mandated to appear in eight to ten debates held prior to the election. This would get the individual's platform out there, the voting public would know where the candidates stood on specific issues, and the voting public would know their candidate quite well.
The second recommendation would be that campaign expenditures should be limited in order to create a level playing field for all of the candidates. In the Kansas gubernatorial race, the Republican candidate spent $2.3 million, while the Democratic candidate spent $600,000. The Libertarian candidate spent more money than I did as well.
Consequently, the two things that I took away from the campaign race are that the seat can be bought provided enough money is spent on television, radio, newspapers, yard signs, and a campaign team. I also learned how much of a factor the media plays in maintaining a two party system. The media makes the path for a third party candidate a steep and slippery journey; they know that they can line their pockets with the campaign funds, whereas the third party candidate most likely will not have a similar "treasure chest"!
Considering we ran a grassroots campaign that took us 40,000 miles throughout Kansas and that compared to the other candidates we ran our campaign on a shoestring, I look at the experience as a positive one. I honestly believe that our platform was the best one offered; I believe that I did take a step toward greater name recognition, which may serve me well in the next four years; I believe that my campaign staff got the most out of the money we spent on the campaign. I also believe that we earned every vote we received since I took no money from any lobbyist or special interest group. All in all, I would have to say that our campaign team was disappointed but not discouraged by the election results.
With the support of the Reform Party, and financial backing from concerned people across the country, we will win the governor's seat four years from now!
Kevin Still, 2010 Independent Candidate for Texas Governor
Why would I want to be Governor of Texas? Years of frustration from watching our government spend recklessly and reap the rewards of our hard work. I am the average middle class taxpayer who is tired of my voice not being heard, but yet is expected to help pay for everything. Our Constitution is being trampled upon, twisted and manipulated while the professional politicians are expanding their range of power and profit. I believe it is going to take real people to solve our real problems. We must return to the basics of our founding documents and restore our states and country from the ground up. Our apples are falling too far from the tree.
That is why my journey began. When I became aware of the other candidates on the Republican and the Democrat party tickets I could wait no longer. President Ronald Regan once said, “To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.” I was so disappointed with both parties, so I ran as an independent.
I traveled around Texas from November of 2009 through April of 2010 meeting likeminded, concerned citizens and found that I am not alone. The most inspiring moment was in New Boston at a “Meet the Candidates” forum. The support I received and mutual frustration with our leadership was heartfelt and honest.
I was often met initially with suspicion while collecting signatures for my petition to be on the ballot. However, once informed of my views I had at least 90% of the eligible voters I spoke to willingly signing and excited. Many of those signers then became volunteers and helped with the petition drive. We were not a highly funded campaign but still reached 36,000 of the 44,000 required signatures. Not a bad run for our first time in the political arena and a late start.
I had the time of my life getting to know the people of Texas and would not trade the experience for anything. I just hope I may have the opportunity to run again and serve my great state. Thanks to all who gave their time and efforts, and God bless.
Frank McEnulty, 2008 Reform Party Candidate for Vice-President
At the end of the last Presidential election, I believed that my Presidential campaign had been a success considering the resources I had available. I was able to get my message out to a lot of people. I had the privilege of meeting a tremendous number of people who have similar beliefs and learned more about the Presidential process than I could have ever imagined.
A lot of people have asked, and are continuing to ask, “what happens next?” To be honest, I really don't know just yet. I've determined that to be fairly sure of getting on the ballot in all 50 states that it will take approximately $5,000,000. That's a lot of money, but not if it's broken down over a large number of people. It's only $20 from 250,000 people, or less than 0.2% of those who could vote in the next Presidential election.
The real question, therefore, is how to reach out to those 250,000 people who I know are out there and who are still totally disgusted with both of our major parties. Regardless of the promises of “change” from both major parties in the recent election, we all know that the system/machine that elected the President will demand that things stay essentially the same. When you have a stacked deck working in your favor, you don't volunteer to change it.
So that's the question on the table before all of us looking toward the election in 2012. Can I and the Reform Party put together a program that would stand a reasonable chance of raising the money necessary to get on the ballot in all 50 states? That accomplishment alone would get the campaign more press than anything else we could do and help to give us a real chance at not just affecting the next election, but actually winning the election.
Now that would be real change.
Tim Collins, 2010 Write-in Candidate for US Congress, Texas 16th District
Running for U.S. Congress as a write-in candidate was, to say the least, an educational experience. I decided to run because I was tired of sitting on the sidelines and watching elected officials act seemingly oblivious to the needs of the country and instead seek their own advancement. I firmly believed, and still do, that the voters wanted someone with an actual plan for the future of our country and for reforming our political process.
What I learned from my loss at the polls was quite simple: Just as in the business world, you can have the greatest product in the world, but if the world does not know about it, you sell very little of the product. I ran a campaign without an organized ground game and support network, and ran straight into the wall of well organized incumbent party organizations. I am confident that my message and platform were solid. However, without an organized ground game, I was unable to bring the message to market effectively. You can rest assured that should I decide to run again, I will not repeat that mistake.
Craig T Stephens, Independent Candidate for the US Congress Texas 23rd District
I found myself systematically excluded by a surprising array of information providers this election. The Liberty Institute touted the "Most Comprehensive Voter's Guide" but did not list any independents for Congress. When asked why, the Liberty Institute informed me that they chose to exclude me because of "space limitations".
AARP's web site promoted both the Republicans and Democrats with hyperlinks, but excluded all other parties, as well as the independents.
Most surprisingly, the Texas Secretary of State's office provided a link to all of the political party homepages, but refused to provide a link for the independent candidates because "[they were] not associated with a party," which, not surprisingly, is exactly what "independent" implies.
Talk Radio 1200 WOAI wished me "good luck" but refused to allow my participation in their "meet the candidate" radio segments.
These organizations all steered voters to the Republicans and Democrats while steering the voters away from the other parties and Independents.
C.W. Drew, Montana
Public service is a tradition in my family. My father campaigned for H. Ross Perot back in 1992 and himself ran for McCone County Attorney in Montana in 2002. My great-grandpa on my father’s side was a city councilman in Miles City, Montana, in the 1950s. My great-grandpa on my mother’s side was mayor of Jordan, Montana, from the 1930s to the early 1960s, and his son—my grandpa who practically raised me—was mayor of Circle, Montana, back in the 1960s and early 1970s. Politics was discussed at my family dinner table just like sports, hunting, or work; it was natural and went with our beans and bread.
I am a 5th generation Montanan on my father’s side, 4th on my mother’s. Montana is a land of plains and mountains, peaks and prairies. Eastern Montana is a place where hunting and high school basketball are almost a religion. It’s a land of farmers, ranchers, coal miners, loggers, oil drillers, land speculators, land developers, energy developers, hunters, fisherman, and environmentalists. In my home state you’re more likely to start an argument over land and natural resource subjects than you are over abortion or gay marriage.
I decided to run for office in February of this year at the age of 28. I had become involved with a petition effort to put initiative I-161 on the Montana ballot, which would get rid of outfitter sponsored tags. A few weeks of that, and I decided I'd had enough of sitting on the sidelines and filed to run for the state legislature.
In the past 9 months, I've gotten an education on our political system in Montana. I also learned a lot about Montana's geography, people, and socio-economics. What I've learned is that you can not judge a person based on their political party, because even the major parties are made up of people with diverse opinions. For example, I've talked to Democrats that want to get rid of Montana's medical marijuana law, and I've met Christian conservative Republicans that want marijuana legal all the way. It’s on the issues in this state that you discover people’s true colors, not whether they have a “D” or an “R” or an “I” behind their name.
Also, I've learned that when you get ordinary people involved in their government, you get extraordinary results. Case in point is Kurt Kephart, a fire and water restoration contractor who not only wrote, but spearheaded I-161 and got it passed. Or the good people of a little town in the southeastern corner of Montana who started a group called Defenders of the Constitutional Republic, who give up their personal time to instead discuss issues and learn about candidates for office.
With the recent election results, I wish the winners well. I hope they can get our economy back and create jobs or a job environment for this nation; I’m not like Rush Limbaugh who said after the election of President Obama, "I hope he fails." Why? Because I know we are all in this boat together, and if they fail, we all fail. Ross Perot understood that united we stand, divided we fall. After watching their opponents demonize our two most recent Presidents, I believe we need to work together to improve our country instead of name-calling. We also need to focus less on being divided by race, economic status, religion, and party and instead work together toward common goals.
I love America, and I love my state. The thing that troubles me in politics today is extreme partisanship. There are areas where I agree with the Republicans, and areas where I agree with the Democrats. And there are areas where I disagree with them. We need protect the Second Amendment, balance the budget, and develop our natural resources. We also need to regulate big business and the financial industry, treat employees fairly, and ensure we have clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat and an excellent educational system.
I’m also very worried about corporate money in politics, especially in light of the United States Supreme Court Citizens United decision, which gave free reign to corporations to just spend at their pleasure. Will it come down in the end to all members of Congress wearing suits like in NASCAR that show their corporate donors so we will know if Senator Smith took money from Bristol Meyers pharmaceuticals before he votes on health care? Or Representative Jones took money from Monsanto before he votes on a farm bill?
Finally, I’m worried about people not being involved in their government. A few years ago, the American Idol singing contest got more voters then the Presidential election. That’s insane in my opinion. I hope a third party rises in this country, because with the far left taking over the Democrats, and the far right taking over the Republicans, there is no place for a moderate man from McCone County, Montana. I raise my glass now; God bless America, God bless Montana, and God bless where ever you are.