Thursday, October 27, 2011

A third-party presidential candidate in 2012?

You might not have heard about Americans Elect, but there's a chance that during next year's presidential race that you will.

The Los Angeles Times notes that if recent history is a guide, then President Obama might not like American Elect involvement next year.
Until now, handicapping for next year's presidential election has focused on how President Obama might fare in a two-candidate race. Could Obama beat Mitt Romney? Rick Perry? Herman Cain? (In all three cases, the answer is probably yes.)

But there's likely to also be a wild card in this election. Americans Elect, a well-funded "virtual third party," plans to put a centrist presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states, and while he or she is unlikely to win the presidential election, the presence of a third candidate could still have a major impact on the outcome.

Americans Elect is a collection of
Republicans, Democrats and independents who say they're fed up with the polarization that has poisoned American politics. Some of its backers have previously contributed to Obama, Romney or other candidates. Several are fans of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has flirted with the idea of running as a third-party centrist. The group's central figure is Peter Ackerman, a wealthy investor and former banker who considers himself an independent and who was active four years ago in a similar effort called Unity08.
You can learn more about Americans Elect on its Website.

ABC News also takes a look at what Americans Elect hopes to do during the presidential nomination and election process.
“We are creating competition for all these folks who are politically homeless,” said Elliot Ackerman, Americans Elect’s chief operating officer. “A lot of the folks that engage with us are socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and those people don’t really have a voice in our political system right now. What we’re doing is really creating an incentive structure so that those individuals will be competed for.”
So far, the group has secured a spot on the ballot in six states, has collected the required number of signatures in four states and has about half the necessary signatures in four other states. Americans Elect spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel said the group  would  begin the petition process in seven more states within the week.
In California, organizers collected and submitted 1.6 million signatures last week, more than have been collected for any one initiative in the state’s history. California has until Nov. 2 to verify those signatures and grant or deny Americans Elect a third-party spot on the ballot.
Ackerman insisted his group is not a “third party” but a ”second way” to nominate a president. Any registered voter can sign up online to be a delegate. Delegates will then draft candidates and vote for their nominee in May and June.
The eventual nominee can be a member of either party or an independent but must chose a vice presidential running mate who is from a different party. Ackerman said he expected many of the losing GOP presidential candidates to move into the Americans Elect primary process after Republicans chose their nominee.
There is sure to be a curiosity about Americans Elect, especially if it continues to draw media attention and to have more and more people join the movement. (And movement might not be the best term at this point.) But ultimately, just like the current "Occupy" movement, it will need to demonstrate that it can generate action and results.

For now, Americans Elect has potential. But it will need to become more.

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