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Spoiler alert: Third-party candidates complicate elections
Third-party candidates are a perennial headache for the Democratic and Republican candidates they run against. Even a few thousand votes can swing an election in the other direction. Here are some potential spoilers in the 2012 elections.
Storified by Digital First Media · Fri, Sep 14 2012 07:38:04
Jonathan Dine, Missouri, Libertarian Party
The Missouri Senate race is one of the most closely watched this year because it could be decisive in determining which party ends up in control of the Senate. Incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) has struggled with her close ties to President Obama, while challenger Todd Akin was hurt by impolitic comments about rape and abortion. Dine, a Libertarian candidate, opposes foreign intervention and supports marijuana legalization and has about $1,500 in his campaign coffers.
SPOILER POTENTIAL: Slim, but can’t be discounted. The McCaskill-Akin race could end up very close and Dine showed organizational skill in a 2010 primary.
Virgil Goode, Virginia, Constitution Party
Virgil Goode served as a Republican member of the House of Representatives for a dozen years before losing in 2008. He then joined the Constitution Party, a conservative group that takes a particularly hard line on immigration. Although Goode hopes to get on the ballot in as many as 40 states, the one that has some Republicans concerned is his home state of Virginia, where he already qualified. The swing state is being hard fought between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
SPOILER POTENTIAL: Slim. Immigration has not been as big an issue this year as in elections past.
Gary Johnson, New Mexico, Libertarian
The former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson attempted to run for the GOP nomination for president but failed to get traction in the polls and was excluded from most presidential debates. He left the party to join the Libertarian Party and won its presidential nomination. Johnson favors the usual Republican issues of limited government and low taxes but he also supports ending the War on Drugs and limiting the Federal Reserve.
SPOILER POTENTIAL: Slim. Despite holding similar views, Johnson has failed to pick up the fans of Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Angus King, Maine, Independent
Angus King served two terms as independent governor of Maine. He’s currently running as an independent for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R). He faces Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers and Democratic state Sen. Cynthia Dill. He has not yet said which party he would caucus with in the Senate, saying it depends on how close the party split is. Although he was last elected in Maine in the late 1990s, King is the prohibitive favorite in the Senate race.
SPOILER POTENTIAL: Solid. At this point, it’s more fair to ask whether the Democratic candidate could be a spoiler against King.