The idea that candidates can escape the two party system with independent runs for office fell flat in Tuesday’s election. While a growing number of California voters declare themselves unaffiliated with any political party – No Party Preference is the official label – candidates that chose NPP as their ballot designation did not break through to November’s runoff.
There were a couple of high profile candidates that went down the NPP path.
Dan Schnur, a former respected political consultant and communications maven and current educator, finished well back in the race for Secretary of State. Schnur finished fourth with less than 9-percent of the vote even behind indicted state Senator Leland Yee.
In the hotly contested 33rd Congressional District race, well-known author Marianne Williamson ran as an NPP candidate. Some pre-election prognostication gave her a chance to make the November run-off. It didn’t happen. Williamson currently is listed in fourth place with just under 13-percent of the vote with the fifth place vote getter not far behind.
One declared No Party Preference candidate that had a reasonable showing was Seth Stodder in Senate District 26. Stodder gathered in 17.5-percent of the vote finishing third in a race that featured eight candidates and he placed ahead of former Assembly member Betsy Butler.
However, looking closely at the results, seven of the eight candidates were Democrats. There were no Republicans in the race. Stodder likely was the choice of many Republican voters that live in the district. Had there been a declared Republican, the NPP candidate probably would not have fared as well.
Is there a political lesson that can be gleaned from the efforts of the NPP candidates?
The results of this election for NPP candidates may strengthen the state’s political parties. The natural base offered by affiliation with a party gives candidates a boost. People who want to be involved in the political process but who are frustrated with party positions might be better off trying and make changes within a party than to follow a path that offers little support.