Between Party Lines: The trials of an independent candidate


BY RACHAEL BLANDAU – STAFF WRITER

In a move that has become common in the current age of partisan politics, Centre’s gubernatorial debate left out one man that has become a recent contender in the race for governor—Drew Curtis. While this move is not altogether shocking, it does bring up the question: why can’t a man who has taken the polls by storm and put in the candidacy forms like the other two candidates get the same courtesy of a public forum? Our country has come down to a battle of party lines, a move that could keep wonderful candidates from ever reaching the light of day.

Take Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, for instance. When asked why he wasn’t running for President as an Independent, which he had been for forty years, Sanders replied: “No matter what I do I will not be a spoiler. I will not play that role in electing some right-wing Republican as President of the United States.”

When Independents run for office, the result is usually a split vote. If there is an Independent that aligns slightly more with the Democratic side of things, but is more solid on an important issue where they are running—like coal mining, for example—this could cause people who would normally vote for the Democrat to vote for the Independent. The outcome: a split vote that ends with the Republican side being elected to office. Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to be a spoiler—he wants a head-to-head, fair presidential race.

Drew Curtis understands that this is the usual effect of Independents running, but he doesn’t think of his bid for governor that way.

“All votes do not belong to the two parties by default,” Curtis said. “So I am not the spoiler in the race. In fact I would actually pose this question to Kentucky: What if [Bevin and Conway] actually cause me not to win?”

In this is an unrealistic, yet valid point—what if Bevin and Conway were the ones to cause Curtis not to win? We live in a very partisan country, where the success of those that aren’t party bound is rarely a thought. However, if Centre had included Curtis in this debate, and he said something astounding, something that made the whole state want to vote for him, then wouldn’t he deserve to win? Unfortunately, those that are not party bound are up against more than the opinions of the voters. Those who host debates, like Centre, and people who provide the money for these candidates to get their name out there are dismissing them as negligible, while they—as Curtis’ website says—are not politicians, but citizen candidates.

Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone can run for office, with the chance to impact their country in a positive way, no matter who they are or what trade they are in. Curtis is not an actual politician – he is a businessman, and the founder of Fark.com. Yet, he had a dream that he could make the commonwealth better, despite the odds against him. Unfortunately, because of his negligible political background, and the fact that he is not party affiliated, means that he most likely will not get the chance to be our governor.

We, as a state and a country, need to realize that our choice in elected official is not as limited as it seems. Anyone can run, and anyone can win if they have the backing. Regrettably, in attending Centre’s debate, we did not see the vision of a regular citizen, who wants to fight for the state he loves. Instead, there will once again be a battle of the party lines. Which side will win this time?


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