Minnesota’s Independence Party has been, since its founding in 1998 from the remains of the Minnesota Reform Party, the traditional refuge of people who like their government big, but “good”. Moderate Democrats like Tim Penny, “moderate” Democrats like Peter Hutchinson, liberal Republicans like Tom Horner, and lots of well-meaning moderates who like thinking big thoughts and playing responsibly with the gears and levers of government have flocked to the IP, if only briefly.
Of course, there’ve been surprises – and according to MPR, there are more still.
And the point of the story is not that the Independence Party got surprised. The real point is…
…well, we’ll come back to that.
First, according to Tom Scheck, news that some of the Indy Party’s traditional base – wonky center-lefties – are shocked, shocked that the party’s Senate candidate Steve Carlson believes some things that most conservatives either reject or present with a lot more nuance than Carlson does:
Carlson, who could not be reached for comment, has posted several rambling video monologues on his website. One tells voters that he is “a serious politician who writes, performs and raps.” Others cover everything from the federal health care law to his opposition to light rail transit and a call for stronger prohibitions against usury. But Carlson’s victory on Tuesday means that on the November ballot he will appear on the top of the ticket for the Independence Party.
Of course, the Indy Party “activists” could have figured this out had they dug into the fact that Carlson ran on the same precise platform in the Fourth CD. Twice – in 2010 against Teresa Collett, and in 2012 against Tony Hernandez. In both cases, he ran well to the right of the Republican in the race.
Which goes to tell us one of two things: Eithier:
- The IndyParty actually has no activists, or
- The ones they have aren’t that bright
But Carlson is well-placed to siphon some conservatives’ votes away Mike McFadden.
Now, I’m not saying the DFL is going to get “behind” Carlson. But why precisely would they not?
In a similar vein, I’ve noted the IP’s candidate for Governor, Hannah Nicollet, is a former (oh, heck, current) Ron Paul activist. And as I noted three months ago, any actual IndyParty activist would gag up their skull over the Paul clicque’s beliefs, and vice versa.
If either the party or the campaign were about either of their actual principles.
Oh, yeah – and Nicollet’s campaign is floundering, so far, even by the IndyParty’s modest standards:
Hannah Nicollet, the endorsed candidate for governor, failed to qualify for a public subsidy that would have helped fund her campaign. She needed to raise $35,000 from other sources to qualify for the subsidy, which would have totaled about $178,000.
See also “The Gerson Effect”.
So let’s get this straight: four years after endorsing Tom Horner, a moderate Republican who seemed designed to wedge the GOP’s dwindling moderate faction away from Tom Emmer, the “Indy Party” endorses two candidates who violate most of the “principles” in the IndyParty’s putative platform, with whom tradidional Indies agree on virtually nothing, but who seem to the casual glance to be ideally selected to siphon off a conservative vote here and a libertarian vote there (Carlson from conservatives; Nicollet from the GOP’s “Ron Paul” faction) in an election cycle that is gonna be a tough one for the DFL.
So the point of the story isn’t that the Indy Party got surprised.
The point is that the Indy Party is a sham. And while I have no evidence – yet - I’ll bet dimes to dollars at some point that the IP gets whatever money it has from Democrats with deep pockets, to try to wedge whatever GOP constituency might be vulnerable to being wedged Not necessarily in the form of direct contributions to the IP, Carlson or Nicollet; but as we saw in 2010, the DFL’s soft-money machine did spend plenty of time and effort setting Horner up as “a Republican” in fora where moderate Republicans could get the message.
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota or some other astroturf DFL propaganda mouthpiece is going to spend some time and effort telling Minnesotans what an awful, icky conservative Carlson is (compared to McFadden), and how crazy libertarian Nicollet is (compared to Johnson) at some point here.