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A Different View on the Role of Independent Candidacies

Yesterday, I directed readers to a piece in Politico that suggested a string of independent gubernatorial candidacies - including Lincoln Chafee's in Rhode Island - could hurt Democrats. W. James Antle III of The American Spectator, a conservative magazine, has a response suggesting that Republicans, in fact, have more to lose.

His analysis of the Massachusetts and New Jersey races is reasonable. In New Jersey, ex-Republican Chris Daggett could take enough votes from Republican Chris Christie to catapult incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat, to re-election.

And even the Politico piece acknowledges that the independent candidacy of Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill might help incumbent Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, more than it hurts. From Politico:

While Cahill ran second to Patrick in a recent poll and could conceivably defeat him in a general election, it’s also possible that his centrist positioning could end up inadvertently assisting the governor by providing a way station for disaffected Democrats who might otherwise have voted Republican.

But Antle's analysis of the Rhode Island race falls short.

Lincoln Chafee might be able to get elected governor of Rhode Island as an independent. But the fact is, the last two governors of this very blue and progressive-minded state have been Republicans. And reasonably conservative ones, by Rhode Island standards, at that.

Sure, Republicans have held the governor's chair of late. But no one gives the lone Republican in the race, State Rep. Joseph Trillo, much of a chance to win in 2010. If Chafee wins, it is the Democrats who will suffer.
 

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