Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rupert Could Draw Equally From Both Major Party Candidates

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette's Niki Kelly has a story today discussing the 2012 gubernatorial race. It includes a discussion of Libertarian Rupert Boneham's candidacy and which of the major party candidates he is likely to draw votes from. Predictably, it is suggested Rupert's candidacy will have a greater impact on the Republican candidate than the Democratic candidate:

Everyone in the race seems a bit mystified by Boneham’s entry. While major party candidates can usually discount Libertarians, Boneham comes with higher name recognition than usual because of his reality TV résumé.
“I’m tempted to dismiss him as a novelty candidate, but you never know what could happen,” said Dion, noting Jesse Ventura’s highly improbable gubernatorial victory in Minnesota. “What remains is the degree to which he can shape the outcome. In Indiana, a greater portion of the Libertarian vote comes from Republicans.”
Gregg agreed, saying having a Libertarian on the ballot historically helps Democrats. He also noted Rupert’s profile and personality as positive attributes.
Pence sidestepped any discussion of Rupert’s effect on the race.
“I’ll leave that to the political pundits” he said, adding he welcomed any willing man or woman into the race.
Wallace is the only one to be slightly critical of the Libertarian candidate, saying he fears that fringe candidates don’t have the skill set to run a state with a $13 billion annual budget.
Boneham disagreed.
“My opponents have some political experience, but I don’t know if that’s an asset or not,” he said. “I want to take both Republican and Democrat votes because I want to be the next Indiana governor.”
Historical analysis would support the contention that Boneham is likely to hurt the Republican candidate much more than the Democratic candidate; however, Boneham's candidacy is unprecedented. Indiana has never had a high profile pop culture candidate like Boneham run as a third party candidate--at least in modern times. Boneham, in my opinion, has the potential to become a credible candidate unlike previous Libertarian and third party candidates for statewide office. This could be particularly true if the major parties present Mike Pence and John Gregg as their candidates, which conventional wisdom indicates is all but a foregone conclusion. Both Pence and Gregg are career politicians with the accompanying baggage. Never before in my life time have people been more distrustful of the political establishment or more concerned about their economic station in life. Boneham's personal popularity and unconventional style of campaigning could allow him to go where no third party candidate has gone before in modern Indiana politics.

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