posted by Josh Goodman
A few months ago, I argued that although the political environment might be turning voters against both the Republican and Democratic parties, no credible independent or third-party candidates (i.e. folks other than Kinky Friedman or run-of-the-mill Libertarians and Greens) were running for governor.
Since then, in what appears to be a concerted and coordinated effort to make me look bad, independents have begun declaring their candidacies.
After the jump, a round-up of some high-profile independent candidates and their chances of winning.
The most notable candidates so far:
* Just last week, wealthy businessman Christy Mihos bolted the Republican Party to run for governor in Massachusetts.
* Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn bowed out of the Republican primary to run as an independent.
* Oregon State Senator Ben Westlund, another longtime Republican, entered the contest for governor as an independent.
*Peter Hutchinson, a former Minnesota finance commissioner under a DFL governor, announced he would run as an Independence Party candidate.
Of this group, Strayhorn has the best chance of winning, although even her odds aren't very good. Instead, these candidates are primarily looked at as spoilers who could affect which major party candidate prevails. However, they at least enter the campaigns with strong enough resumes that, under the right circumstances, they would have a chance to win.
A few months ago, a Democratic operative I spoke with posed the key question to determining whether these candidates can become competitive. She said that she was still trying to figure out whether the nation's mood is anti-Republican or anti-politician, the latter scenario obviously being more beneficial to independents. My tentative answer is the same answer I give when someone asks me what flavor of ice cream I want: Some of each. Whether that will be enough to elect any independent governors this year remains to be seen.