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The Nose

Third-Party Poopers

Posted 11/13/2002

Spear lancaster, the Libertarian Party candidate for Maryland's governorship ("Odd Man Out," Oct. 23), managed to win just over 11,500 votes in the Nov. 5 election, less than the 1 percent required to maintain state recognition of his party. Thus, Lancaster campaign manager Steve Boone explains to the Nose, the party must collect 10,000 valid voter signatures before early 2003 in order to keep its state-recognized status. Failing that, Boone continues, all of Maryland's roughly 6,300 registered Libertarians will be recategorized in voter-registration records as "Decline/Other" until the party meets the signature threshold."We expected more votes, but Republicans came out in droves," Boone says. "And in our exit polling, many were telling us that they'd have voted for Spear if they weren't so afraid of [Kathleen Kennedy] Townsend winning."

The Green Party had no statewide candidate on the ballot, but in the new 42nd District, just north of the city line, Rick Kunkel scored 5,300 votes, 4.5 percent of the district's total, in his attempt to win a delegate seat. Was he a spoiler? Sierra Club activist Terry Harris believes so, pointing out that three virtually unknown Republicans swept the House delegation despite the presence on the ballot of a well-heeled veteran Dem, incumbent Del. James Campbell. "The Kunkel votes would have gone to Democrats," Harris explains.

Outgoing state Sen. Barbara Hoffman, D-42nd, who strongly backed Campbell, disagrees. Green presidential candidate "Ralph Nader was a spoiler for Al Gore" in 2000, Hoffman asserts. "But Kunkel, while he probably hurt, wasn't a spoiler." Instead, she says, this election "was all about change," and incumbents running in remapped districts, like Campbell, fell victim to the zeitgeist.

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