Third party didn’t alter the race

Published 1:48 pm Saturday, December 8, 2012

I was so surprised by a profile in the newspaper on Nov. 27 that I had to respond. I am referring to the article on the supposed effect of the Independence Party candidate on the Shannon Savick victory for House seat 27A. The article said that nearly everyone with an eye on local politics felt the Independence Party candidate, Mr. William Wagner, took votes from Rich Murray, the Republican Party incumbent. It then provides no evidence to support that view. The article also did not identify its sources.

Here’s another take: Over the years, people on both sides of the aisle have said that the Independence Party candidate takes votes from Republicans or Democrats, but no one is really sure. I think there is a better way to look at this. It is the challenger who is hurt by a third-party candidate, so in this case Savick. Why? Rich Murray was the incumbent. It was his race to win. If people liked him and felt he and his party were doing a good job, they would have voted for him. But they did not approve of the job he was doing and were either going to vote for Savick, vote for a third choice or not vote at all. Without the third-party choice, they would have voted for Savick or skipped the race altogether. Savick still wins.

Also, I do not understand why people would conclude that a person who has run as a Democrat in the past (Wagner) would steal votes from a Republican. Wagner did not campaign much this time, and the only reason that he would have any name recognition would be as a person who was on the Democrat ticket a few years ago.

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Lastly, there is one point in the article that makes sense. Rich Murray said that he thought some people were disgusted by all the negative advertising and voted for the third party as a reaction to that. Accepting that, people of both parties would be turned off, not just Republicans, since both parties engaged in it. So equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans were turned off and voted third party. Without the option, they vote their party and Savick still wins.

That’s the point. Faced with the choices, the majority of people voted for Savick. Let’s just wish her good luck.


Ted Hinnenkamp

Albert Lea


Editor’s note: Thank you for your feedback. We would like to point out that the story did cite sources of Minnesota Public Radio, Murray and Wagner as stating the Independence Party impacted the District 27A election. In addition, many people gathered Nov. 6 at a local hotel to watch election returns made similar comments about the race. Still, you make valid points. Not “nearly everyone” saw Wagner’s impact the same way.