Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: The Liabilities of Being an Independent

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: The Liabilities of Being an Independent

Article excerpt

When Greg Orman ran as an independent against Sen. Pat Roberts in 2014, it was a strange moment in Kansas political history. Tens of millions of dollars were spent on political ads, and as Bob Beatty noted in a recent column, Orman's campaign "scared Roberts enough to make him agree to a primetime TV debate, something incumbent Republican senators are about as apt to agree to as KU scheduling a basketball game with Wichita State." But Roberts still won by a substantial margin: 53 percent to 42 percent.

Even though there was no Democrat on the ballot to siphon votes away from Orman three years ago, he performed remarkably well for an independent in a major election. This fact was probably on Orman's mind when he declared his candidacy for governor earlier this month.

In 2016, Orman published a book that challenged the dominance of the two major parties in the United States: "A Declaration of Independents: How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream." He tells readers that he wants to start a movement with a goal "no less encompassing than giving Americans an alternative to our corrupt, ineffectual, and polarized two major political parties." While a substantial proportion of voters can clearly be convinced to support a candidate without an "R" or a "D" next to his or her name, does this mean the establishment of an official third party is the next logical step?

Scott Morgan and Scott Richardson certainly think so. They're trying to get the 18,000 petition signatures necessary to place their "Party of the Center" on the ballot in 2018. According to Morgan, even an Orman victory in 2018 wouldn't be enough to substantially shift the political balance in Kansas: "It's a one-off, personality-driven candidacy. You need something built around a philosophy. People want a label, a shortcut for picking people. …

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