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Third Party Candidates

Third Party Candidates

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Published by: dennis.swibold3413 on Oct 25, 2008
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For immediate releaseThird Party CandidatesNOTE TO EDITORS
: These stories are produced by University of Montana journalismstudents under the supervision of Professor Dennis Swibold. They may be used withoutcharge by any news publication, provided editors retain the students’ bylines. Pleasecontact Professor Swibold (www.dennis.swibold@umontana.edu
) with any questions.You can also find this story and other information on the upcoming election atwww.montanaschoice2008.blogspot.com.
By CHRIS D’ANGELO and MATT MCLEODCommunity News ServiceUM School of Journalism
For major party candidates in high-profile races, earning a nomination can be thethrill of a lifetime and a stepping-stone to the halls of political power and respect. But for most third party Montana contenders, being on the ballot is often more about sending amessage than winning an election.Despite the improbable chance of being elected, these candidates continue to fightthe frustration, voicing their opinions in hopes of one day changing our current system of government.
For Congress: Mike Fellows
In his pursuit of Montana’s lone congressional seat, Libertarian Mike Fellowsof  Missoula has found himself in the middle of something truly bizarreAs if Democrat John Driscoll’s unconventional zero-dollar campaigning approachwasn’t enough, weeks later the contrarian from Helena promised to vote for incumbentRepublican Congressman Denny Rehberg on Nov. 4.Fellows said he’s in the race because there is no real fiscal conservative in therace.“The Democrats won’t put up someone to fight Rehberg,” Fellows said. “It’s toosimplistic to say, ‘I’m going to sit back and not raise any money.’ Any of us can do that.”Fellows, a graduate of the University of Montana whose passion is rebuildingVolkswagen busses, is in his fifth congressional campaign. He’s also run for secretary of state and the Montana Legislature. He has yet to win a statewide race.While Fellows will admit his role it is often frustrating, it’s not all that terribleeither, he said.“We’d all like to win the race,” he said. “But eventually you hope to at least getsome of your ideas across and sway public opinion.”As a member of the Libertarian Party, Fellows is all about expanding civilliberties and minimizing government. “We allow people to do as they will withoutinfringing on the rights of others to do what they want to do,” he said.And when it comes to the big issues in the congressional race, Fellows focuses onspending – which he says has gone far enough.
“The Republicans have been spending more than they really should,” he said.“They had a chance to reduce the budget in 2003, but instead they chose to raise threedifferent taxes,” he said. “We can’t keep spending like drunken sailors.”Instead, Fellows said, Americans should be asking what they can do to reduce the budget. They could start by eliminating pork-barrel spending for pet projects in their districts, he added.Fellows said that although Rehberg claims he wants to reduce spending, he isreally part of the problem. “We can’t keep electing people who vote against what theConstitution stands for,” he said.Fellowshimself stands for gun rights and against the Patriot Act; for lessrestrictions on alternative medicine and against abortions, for allowing juries to judge thefacts and the law and against raising taxes; for school vouchers and against the federal NoChild Left Behind law. He also wants to see greater emphasis on developing alternativeenergy sources, including wind and solar power.“We have to develop new alternative energies,” says Fellows.Despite his unlikely chance of winning, Fellows is hopeful. Being a part of the process is important, he added.“You still have to get out there. The more you get out there, the more people willactually see you. Change does come from those who show up.”
For Superintendent of Public Instruction: Donald Eisenmenger
Like most third party candidates, Libertarian Donald Eisenmenger will agree that he has little change of winning. But there’s always hope.“It is true that third party candidates don’t win most of the time, but it’s notunheard of,” said Eisenmenger, a 58-year-old retired psychologist and businessman whocalls Helena home. He points to former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura’s successfulindependent campaign to become Minnesota’s governor in 1999.“Although winning is the desired objective, it’s not the only reason you’reinvolved in the race,” he said. “Third parties can have a dramatic effect on the directionand position of the institutions they are running for.”In his case, the institution is Montana’s public education system, whichEisenmenger believes is not nearly as good as it could be.“It is completely unresponsive to students and parents,” he said.His wants more localized control of education and more choice for parents,including tax vouchers for those who don’t want to put their children in public schools.If elected to lead the Office of Public Instruction, Eisenmenger he would promotecompetition and innovation in an education system, which he says “has turned into amonopoly.”Government-run schools are “in a straight jacket,” he said, because they’reseverely limited in what they can do if they want to continue to receive funding from thestate.“When you have no competition, you’re using essentially the same philosophy for teaching that was used 50 or 100 years ago,” he said.Unlike his opponents, Democrat Denise Juneau and Republican Elaine Herman,Eisenmenger opposed increase state funding for public schools.
“We’re paying more than we need to for the education system because it’s overly bureaucratic,” he said. “We need more opportunity for competition and innovation.”A former Republican, Eisenmenger said the GOP had long ago abandoned its principles, leaving him “politically homeless” until he found the Libertarians.He said he has always favored more individual freedom and lower taxes, whichwould allow people to spend more money on themselves.“We (Libertarians) believe that the government has dramatically overgrown theintent of our founding fathers,” he said. “We’d like to see a significantly reduced andmore constitutional government.”“It (government) grows like a cancer, with almost equally beneficial results,” hesaid.Eisenmenger continues to hope change is coming, regardless of whether he winsor loses.“It’s not a totally frustrating experience,” he said. “It’s really encouraging to knowthere are a lot of people out there that are not happy with how the current system isworking.”-30-
For Secretary of State: Sieglinde Sharbono
Sieglinde Sharbono, the Constitution Party candidate for secretary of state, didn’twant to run for office.“I’ve never had any aspirations to hold public office,” said Sharbono, who hailsfrom Sidney but now lives in Stevensville. “If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have run.”As it turns out, she really didn’t have to.Sharbono said state party leaders scrambled to find a last-minute stand-in whensomebody got the mistaken impression they had to field a candidate in the race to stay onthe ballot in future races. An hour before the filing deadline, Sharbono got the call.“The opportunity just kind of dropped into my lap,” Sharbono said. “I felt it wasmy responsibility to make the most of it.”Like the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party also wants to reduce the size of government, but according to its Web site, unlike the officially secular Libertarians,Constitutionalists also look to “restore the law to its Biblical foundations.”The party mantra is both strictly conservative: pro-life, pro-gun, anti-abortion,anti-gay marriage; and strictly isolationist.But the fight for secretary of state has never been much of an ideological struggle – in fact it’s never been much of a battle at all. With little publicity, fewer campaigndonations and no debates, the race is a perennial snoozer.Democratic challenger Linda McCulloch’s biggest gripe with Republicanincumbent Brad Johnson is that he doesn’t show up to enough Board of LandCommissioners meetings. The only other major point of contention is how well Johnsonhas run elections; in 2006, Missoula and Gallatin counties had a few minor Election Dayhiccups, but audits revealed no evidence of voter fraud.The debate might seem pedestrian but the position does carry some weight. Thesecretary of state is responsible for interpreting election laws, maintaining state records

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