Most media news outlets are calling this year’s Pennsylvania Senate race one of the most competitive this election season. Politico ranks incumbent Pat Toomey’s seat (R-PA) as the 5th most likely to see the incumbent defeated in November.
Like most elections in the United States, independent candidates don’t get their fair share of airtime and the Pennsylvania Senate race is no different. A Google search of “Pennsylvania Senate race” yields many articles, but most only mention the Republican and Democratic contenders.
However, there is another candidate running for the seat who may have a huge impact on the outcome. Independent candidate Everett Stern is running to defeat incumbent Pat Toomey for a variety of reasons. In a recent interview for IVN, Stern explained:
“I am running to make a positive difference like other independents. We are mostly using are own money and own time, and I am trying to get the message out that both Democrats and Republicans better wise up.”
Stern, a former Republican turned independent, is known for uncovering the HSBC money laundering scandal. His efforts as a whistleblower exposed that HSBC was funneling billions into the Yemeni wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanese Shiite group, Hezbollah, among others. This eventually led to a SEC investigation and a $1.92 billion fine against HSBC in 2012.
The reason this could have an impact on the race is Sen. Toomey serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs, and receives contributions from HSBC North America, along with many other commercial banks, according to OpenSecrets.org.
When asked if Stern would consider returning to the Republican Party he said, “The Republican Party made it difficult for me. They blocked me from getting onto the ballot . Now, with the rise of Trump, it is not the Republican Party I signed up for. I will not sell myself out and my values, which remain very middle of the road.”
As a 31-year-old, Stern’s run for office is out of the norm. He thinks most millennials are too disassociated from politics. And, more millennials don’t run for office because they are afraid of losing.
“The right thing to do is to check in and run as an independent," he said. "Young people cannot give up on the system. The system has to be changed from the inside and not the outside because there is something very very wrong with Washington.”
When asked what his next steps would be in the race and what he will do to gain more traction with the mainstream media, Stern said, “I am going to crash the party. Hopefully I’ll keep gaining traction, but running as an independent makes it hard to gain coverage.”
As more voters begin to self-identify as independent, especially now with the two most unfavorable front-runners in modern politics, the chance that more independent candidates will run for office and actually win is higher. Obviously, this situation won’t change overnight, but there might be a light at the end of this very long, hundred-year tunnel.