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Third-Party Candidates Make Their Case For Equal Treatment

Wildly Different In Platforms, But A United Front

By DANIELA ALTIMARI

August 18, 2010

HARTFORD Andrew White, a fiscally conservative hedge fund manager from Ridgefield, and Stephen Fournier, a Green Party activist and lawyer from Hartford, have sharply different ideas about the role of government.

Yet White and Fournier stood side by side on the north steps of the state Capitol Wednesday and decried a political system that freezes out candidates for public office who, like them, are not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties.

"Where we agree with one another and probably a large swath of the voting public, is in this conviction: Democrats and Republicans have shown themselves incapable of governing in the public interest and we want to change that," Fournier, the Green Party candidate for attorney general, said during the press conference.

The gathering brought together about a dozen candidates from four political parties: Green, Independent, Libertarian and Connecticut for Lieberman. Some came in shorts and Tevas, others wore suits and ties. Together, they made a collective plea to the press for equal treatment and to the organizers of political debates for inclusion.

"What we have presently in Connecticut is a lack of fairness and a lack of equality for third parties, minor parties, independents,'' said Mike DeRosa, co-chairman of the Green Party in Connecticut and a candidate for secretary of the state. "It happens to be a fact, an inconvenient fact, that 42 percent of the people who are registered in Connecticut are either registered as unaffiliated or are members of a third party. We are the largest group of people in the electorate and yet we are given short shrift at every turn of the process.''

"We want to return power to the people,'' added Cicero B. Booker Jr., a Waterbury alderman running for lieutenant governor on the Independent Party slate. (His running mate, gubernatorial candidate Tom Marsh, did not attend the press conference; Marsh is first selectman of Chester and was tied up with town business.)

John Mertens, a Trinity College engineering professor who is running for U.S. Senate on the Connecticut for Lieberman line, blames the media for focusing more on the horse-race aspects of the two-party system than the serious ideas put forth by third-party candidates.

"Elections should be about ideas and solutions to problems,'' Mertens said, "not mudslinging and 30-second spots and who has the [biggest] personal fortune.''

Most of these candidates don't speak in sound bites. In person and on their websites, you're more likely to find a detailed treatise on economic policy than an attack piece on the opposition.

"I was just amazed at the level of simplicity that's been coming out of the major campaigns'' said Dan Reale, a Libertarian running for Congress from the 2nd District. "Like the Linda McMahon campaign, for example. 'We need jobs.' Oh, hold still so I can give you an economics prize.''

Warren Mosler, the Independent Party's candidate for U.S. Senate, said he is more than happy to share his prescriptions for righting the U.S. economy with his opponents: Mertens, McMahon and Democrat Richard Blumenthal. In fact, Mosler says he met with Blumenthal for two hours several months ago to talk about his plans. [The Blumenthal campaign confirmed the meeting took place.]

"I'm running as a matter of conscience to get this economy fixed,'' said Mosler, an entrepreneur with a degree in economics.

White, who is running as the Independent Party's candidate for state treasurer, says he's in it to win.

But victory is an elusive concept. Jeff Russell, the Green Party's write-in candidate for U.S. Senate, has no illusions. "I look at the major parties and haven't heard them offering anything,'' he said. "I would consider it a success if I could get one person to think."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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