Could 2012 really be the year we see a viable third-party candidate on the ballot?
Roll Call's Morton Kondracke says American's Elect, the online group hoping to come up with an alternative, has the best shot in a long time. The group should field a candidate in all 50 states this year by nominating their standard bearer online.
AE’s problem is credibility — will it attract political “heavyweights,” people one could imagine as president — or just people who could not win another party’s nomination, such as former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, so far the only declared AE candidate.
There’s also the possibility that the nominating process could be hijacked by followers of libertarian Republican Ron Paul, whose nomination would practically guarantee Obama’s re-election.
But, as (Former Comptroller General David) Walker says, the prospect of being on 50 state ballots, getting into the presidential debates and receiving federal matching funds should attract plausible presidents — at least as plausible as Ross Perot, who won 19 percent of the vote as a third-party candidate in 1992 and forced both major parties to focus on the federal deficit.
And, Walker says, a credible centrist candidacy in 2012 — and the prospect of 50-state ballot access and federal matching funds in 2016 — might lead to establishment of a real new party.
“This year’s candidate could be John C. Frémont,” he said, referring to the first Republican presidential nominee in 1856, “who paved the way for Abraham Lincoln in 1860.”