Apathy, Not Laws, Barrier to Independent Candidates

September 15, 2010

Today Lowell Weicker wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant criticizing the state laws that prevent independent candidates from participating. State laws and paperwork requirements serve as an easy target for people saying that it is too difficult to run for office. However as someone who has worked on campaigns I can assure you that among all the barriers to running the paperwork is the least of it.<p>Running a campaign is not as much of an exercise in paperwork as it is an exercise in footwork. As a candidate if you want to be viable you need to get together a core group of supporters that will bring your message to their friends, family, and neighbors. These people need to not only be willing to vote for you, but also give you money, sign your petition, and make calls or knock doors. While there are votes to be rounded up by carpet bombing the electorate with television ads and mailers, these votes are not going to materialize unless you have a ground presence.</p><p>Democrats and Republicans have an easier time because the infrastructure and support for them is already in place. Town Committees meet on a monthly basis and the people in them are willing to do these things. The people on the town committees then serve as information providers for their friends and family in the community. They are the political junkies that their friends turn to in order to understand what is happening in these elections. In Connecticut if a candidate is running for an office in a major party they have probably stopped by your town committee meeting at least once and you’ve had the opportunity to meet the candidate and ask the candidate questions.</p><p>Independent candidates are stuck building this infrastructure from square one. They have much larger hurdles to clear culturally and logistically than those running with the entrenched parties. However if they are able to put in the hard work it is not impossible to clear these hurdles.</p>

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.