With the now complete sweep of one large political party over the other in the 2013 statewide elections in Virginia, Independents left out of the process turn their ever optimistic attention toward the 2014 elections starting with a special election for state senate in Loudoun County on January 21st, 2014.
The first order of business was the rapid endorsement and nomination by the Independent Green Party (IGVA) of Delegate Joe May, after being denied his former party’s nomination. As Chairman of the Transportation Committee in the House of Delegates, Delegate May oversaw the 2013 transportation bill that allowed Virginia to finally address a vital infrastructure need in the Commonwealth. A U.S. Army veteran, May is a Virginia Tech grad, and member of the University's Engineering Hall of Fame. May also owns and operates a business that employs about 300 people in Sterling, Virginia.
Independent Green Party leaders met with Delegate Joe May's State Senate District 33 campaign team on Thursday December 19th in anticipation of the Governor calling the Special Election. That pronouncement came the next day which left Indy Green petitioners exactly five days to gather enough signatures to get Delegate May on the ballot for State Senate. By Saturday the IGVA and Joe May's campaign team were gathering signatures continuing all weekend, enlisting help from their Vice-Chair Gail “for Rail” Parker who declared that they (the IGVA) jointly, with Joe May's campaign team, “collected enough signatures - in a single day - to put Joe May on the ballot."
It was a very long day of petition gathering work. "About 12 to 14 hours of good, diligent, disciplined Independent Green Party petition gathering work, most of it spent going door to door," added IGVA executive committee member Carey Campbell.
With over 400 signatures for Delegate Joe T. May, the Independent Greens of Virginia will learn Thursday, December 26th whether Delegate May will accept their nomination. This is a rare opportunity for the Independent Greens who are always recruiting candidates willing to challenge the two larger parties. With third parties not free to choose their own nominating procedure, special elections like this one force them to collect the required petition signatures in a short five-day window, this year including Christmas Day.
These are the activities that earn the respect of independent voters when the odds are so stacked against them. Onerous election laws in Virginia make it one of the least friendly states toward third parties in the entire country. Most glaring is the 10% statewide vote count required to earn coveted ballot status. In nearly every other state, the 6% vote total earned by Libertarian Robert Sarvis would have been enough to earn ballot status. Only one other state has as difficult a requirement as Virginia, with the national average being only 2%.
According to my research it would only take a minor change in the definition of a political party to be changed to bring fairness and competition to a state that once again saw 42 of 100 House of Delegate members run unopposed in 2013.
The question Indies ask is why? Why are the large party members so afraid of including independents? Knowing Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had a libertarian-friendly business and fiscal agenda, I encouraged him to debate Sarvis in order that Libertarians, who generally tune out of the scripted-infomercial debates, would actually watch and hear positive reasons to vote for Ken. That might have changed the outcome, but as predicted he followed his large party orthodoxy which prefers to never give the Independents an opening.
On behalf of the Independent Greens, I joined Bill Redpath of the Libertarians and Audrey Clement of the Green Party to make the rounds in the General Assembly last January asking for the requirements to be lowered. We could not find any members willing to carry our legislation with at least one Senator telling us, “We don’t want competition.”
Having independents involved in the process would accomplish many positive results for voters. First, we are the only ones who ask questions like why the large parties continue to grow Big Government despite the people’s fear and distrust.
Second, we have fresh ideas on governing for the people and not just for the large financial supporters. Third, we challenge why we can’t have open, honest debates among all contenders on the ballot. Fourth, we challenge the make-believe threat of voter fraud, an issue that led Senator Obenshain to champion voter identification legislation that tried to solve a problem that does not exist. No wonder he didn’t get elected. They seriously underestimate the fact that voters are paying attention.
It is time voters finally reject voting for either of the large parties. Continuing to cast votes for them only perpetuates the political marketing campaigns that feature nothing but negative ads to frame the fear of the boogeyman opponent, rather than offering reasons to select one candidate over another. When voters hear this nonsense, they should resist and pledge to cast a vote for an alternative.
Since both of the large parties continue to grow government – despite most all of the so-called conservatives since and including President Reagan promising otherwise – voters should look elsewhere. Comparing the professional experience and background of the dozens of individuals that the IGVA presented will find a high quality of the characters, many high-ranking veterans and honorable citizens all fully capable of governing as well if not better than their large party rivals. Some would argue that these Indies would more likely act in the people’s interest rather than perpetuating Big Government.
So the question is why? Why do voters continue to cast ballots for those large parties that do not have the people’s interest at heart? In this season that we give thanks, treasure our spiritual relationships and choose resolutions for the new year, it our hope that more voters will rally to the reasoned arguments for independent voting to match their independent thinking and stop voting for the large party.
It is time that people who claim allegiance to either large party face the reality that little underlying differences exist between them. They both vote to squander our tax dollars, waste resources, subvert our constitution (only 14 of 100 US Senators voted against the NDAA that authorizes indefinite detention of American citizens). The duopoly created by the large party is split into two contrasting sides only as an effective public relations maneuver that depicts them pointing fingers at one another and perpetuating the myth of divided government.
An independent resurgence would provide a solid – sometimes more than one alternative – to the two that represent the Big Government status quo today. The special election on January 21st is the perfect opportunity for an independent to get elected. Especially in this case an outgoing member of the General Assembly who would not need any preparation to jump into the General Assembly while already underway.
I usually do not use this column for endorsing a candidate – and in full disclosure I am the chairman of the Independent Greens of Virginia – but I make an exception this time and ask voters to cast a vote for Joe May for State Senate. Special elections like this draw a very small turnout which means he can get elected to serve the remaining two years of this senate term.