New Energy Fuels Explosive Momentum to Elect Independents in 2018

We are seeing new energy in our campaign to elect independent candidates nationwide.

The Associated Press on Thursday featured the Centrist Project’s efforts to recruit and support independent candidates in 2018: “Washington infighting breeds new independent candidates.”

  • “Following this week’s government shutdown and the 2016 election, in which both parties nominated historically unpopular candidates, there’s new energy in the movement to reclaim the political center.”
  • “In a Denver co-working space…[five possible and declared] independent candidates for U.S. Senate and governorships recently plotted how to pry loose Republicans’ and Democrats’ grip on U.S. politics.”
  • “I look around and see a bunch of other ships in the water, rowing in the same direction,” said Charles Wheelan, a Dartmouth College political scientist who founded The Centrist Project, which hosted the Denver meeting.”

Shutdown Politics

The partisan blame game over the government shutdown misses a larger point: the underlying system that incentivizes zero-sum, partisan politics is fundamentally broken and needs reform.

  • As Nick Troiano writes: “Both political parties are not interested in governing the country, and are instead being governed by their base…Independent leaders who put country over party can be the antidote to the sickening cycle of shutdown politics and gridlocked governance.”
  • Neal Simon, a potential independent U.S. Senate candidate in Maryland, writes: “The Senate consists of 100 people, which is roughly the size of my company. In any business, there is rarely consensus about almost anything. But, we communicate, collaborate and make decisions that we believe are in our collective best interest.”
  • On the new Smerconish.com, Centrist Project co-chair Charles Wheelan points out: “The tragedy here is not that the country is being torn apart by intractable ideological disagreements on immigration. It’s the opposite: that our two political parties are snatching political divisiveness from the jaws of consensus.”

Here Come the Independents

In late December, incumbent Colorado State Senator Cheri Jahn became the latest incumbent elected official to leave her party, saying, “I didn’t change, the system changed. This system is terribly broken.”

More and more candidates are stepping up to join her:

  • On January 7, the Centrist Project’s Colorado campaign –– Unite Colorado –– announced that for the first time in state’s history, there is a credible, competitive, and coordinated slate of independent candidates running to put the people before the parties. Troiano told Colorado Politics: “We wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without a near universal recognition that this is an idea whose time has come.”
  • On January 10, Missouri attorney Craig O’Dear announced [video] an exploratory committee to run for U.S. Senate as an independent. Pushing back against the idea that independents could not make an impact, O’Dear told the Kansas City Star: “You know what the last twelve months have taught us? The only people who really have power are those senators who have said, ‘I am not handing my vote to the leaders of my party.’”
  • Yesterday, entrepreneur Greg Orman officially declared his independent candidacy for governor in Kansas. Orman told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Daily: “I’m sort of tired of the argument that only two parties are entitled to govern in this country.” Orman recently announced raising over $450k in the first month of his exploratory campaign.

In Case You Missed It 

The opportunity and need for independent leadership continues to grow.

  • Gallup: “Last year, 42% of Americans, on average, identified as political independents, erasing the decline to 39% seen in the 2016 presidential election year…[T]he three-point increase in the proportion of independents in 2017 is larger than what Gallup typically has seen in the year after a presidential election.’”
  • Independent Governor Bill Walker in his State of the State [video]: “Do I still believe that a fisherman from Yakutat and a carpenter from Valdez can come together around the simple idea that our home and our future matter more than our ideology; that in our unity and our independence, Alaska could show the rest of the country a path forward? Absolutely, I do.”

Transformational change is at our fingertips.