Independent Candidates Face Uphill Battle in Nevada

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Independent Candidates Face Uphill Battle in Nevada

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Gino DiSimone, Non-Partisan gubernatorial candidate (Campaign Photo)

If there's one state in the union you'd think would be all about bucking the system and voting for independent candidates, you might pick Nevada.

But that's not the case, says Political Scientist Eric Herzik.

Herzik: "The reality is third party candidates as actual office holders are so rare, and I can't think of one of the top of my head, their influence is more trying to shape debate."

He says Nevada has relatively friendly laws for third party and independent candidates, but the system is still stacked against them.

The candidates themselves aren't shy about saying so.

DiSimone: "I'm Gino DiSimone. I'm running for the gubernatorial office. I'm an independent non-partisan."

The challenges were spelled out for DiSimone when he got an "invitation" to Sunday's debate from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. It which read to him more like a rejection letter.

DiSimone: "You have to have 50-thousand dollars in campaign contributions and you have to show 10 percent or more in a deemed credible' poll."

DiSimone and the four other gubernatorial candidates not with the major parties don't poll that high.

They don't poll at all, in fact- because the polls just ask voters if they favor Republican Brian Sandoval, Democrat Rory Reid, or "other."

But the TV station wouldn't budge- the news director pointed out his station has to draw the line somewhere to keep the debate relevant.

DiSimone: "So he recommended that we contact Rasmussen, Gallup, Mason-Dixon, and the others and explain our situation so that we could get into the polls, which I did."
Rittiman: "And how'd that go?"
DiSimone: "We're still not in the polls." (Laughs)

Back at our Political Scientist's office, that comes as no surprise to Eric Herzik.

Herzik: "They're not gonna throw every possible candidate who has declared himself or herself on a ballot in a poll. It's a matter of practicality and I would say it's a matter of reality in terms of who has a realistic chance of winning."

Herzik calls the idea of a multi-party system "romantic."

For all of the ills detractors can point to in the two party system, he says it does give us one major advantage: It's kept US politics fairly stable, while countries with multi-party systems have some serious issues getting things done.

Herzik: "You're seeing this right now in Australia where I think both major parties have 71, they need 76 to get to a governing coalition, now they have to cut various deals."

Deals that can be every bit as unseemly as the big money politics of our two party system.

That being said, I was curious to know what Herzik thought about that old argument: voting for a third party candidate is just throwing away your vote.

Herzik: "You can us a third party vote as a type of protest. I'm sending a message. So is the vote somehow about picking a winner and somehow you're proud of that, or are you trying to send a message?"

The third party candidates for governor hope to convince more people to send that message, by shining a light on the system with their own parking lot debate.

But keeping the attention on them instead of the two major party candidates seems like a daunting if not impossible task.