‘Spoiler,’ ‘wastrel’ or ‘noble:’ An assessment of voting for an independent

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Independent gubernatorial candidate Oz Griebel, right, and running mate Monte Frank.

My vote for the most noble political people in Connecticut this week: the 60,000 who voted for petitioning governor candidates without succumbing to “spoiler” condescension from their families, colleagues, and friends.

That nobility includes independent candidate Oz Griebel himself. He faced a lot of pressure from very well-meaning people, but Oz upheld his purpose, and stayed steadfast to the cause of so many voters who wanted him to succeed.

Those who choose to “avert the worst” candidate by voting for one of the two big contenders when they prefer a minor candidate are well-meaning, and they have decent justification. But they miss the chance to squelch an ongoing problem: a two-party system that satisfies almost nobody. The two-party railroading is among the things Oz, and running-mate Monte Frank, stood to end. Alas, that will have to wait for another election.

When I conducted exit polling on Tuesday, many voters sadly expressed that they truly preferred Oz Griebel, but felt compelled to vote for Ned Lamont. A few said “I have to vote Republican” even though in a different year they’d vote for Oz. None of them were happy.

By contrast, the few who voted independent expressed happiness. Three of my four “Republicans for Oz” at my “exit tent” were exceptionally gleeful.

As a close acquaintance put it: if everybody just could vote for the candidate who shares their views, the term “spoiler” would vanish. I’ll add: it would make the big party candidates better. They would have to respond to candidates on their left and right. In the process, the best candidates accommodate a majority of viewpoints.

Rank-choice voting, which Maine conducted this year, means there is no spoiler. And with rank-choice, the “evil” candidate has little chance of making it. Voters in a rank-choice system can choose a small party and give a second-choice vote for one of the big ones, without worrying that their vote is going to waste. The rankings dismiss the lowest vote-getters, re-rank, and thereby assure that the final winner carries a majority. Ned Lamont’s totals today put him at 48.6 percent. A rank-choice system would propel him into majority status.

Meanwhile, Bob Stefanowski didn’t have to respond to any prominent candidate on his right. It left many true conservatives unsatisfied, and possibly reduced their turnout. (The conservatism of lieutenant governor candidate Joe Markley unquestionably aided Bob this year). Connecticut will not likely see rank-choice voting for a long time. Thanks to the fervent support of these 60,000, it will see energetic, good candidates from many parts of the political spectrum, in primaries and in general elections. That bodes well for Connecticut’s democracy.

Mark Stewart Greenstein was a candidate for Connecticut governor and is co-founder of the Americans for Minimal Government Party (AMiGo).


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