The US Senate race in Florida is interesting in several ways. Alex Snitker became the first Libertarian to qualify for the US Senate ballot in the state’s history. The sitting Republican Governor, behind in his own party’s primary, may run as an independent instead. And a Democratic Party candidate has gathered over a hundred thousand signatures to qualify for the ballot instead of paying a filing fee.
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Snitker Makes Florida History In Senate Bid
The race for the Florida U.S. Senate seat just became even more interesting as Alex Snitker becomes the first Libertarian to qualify for the ballot in the state’s history.
TALLAHASSEE – Standing on the steps of the historic State Capitol building, Alexander Snitker made some history of his own by becoming the first Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate to ever appear on the Florida ballot. Snitker announced that he had met all the requirements to qualify for the ballot, which included paying the $10,440 filing fee.
“This race just became at least a three-way dogfight,” Snitker told the assembled media at a press conference in Tallahassee on Wednesday.
Prior to the announcement, the race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat was considered a two-way contest between the Democrat and Republican nominees, with Kendrick Meek and Marco Rubio being the front runners from each respective party.
Rumors continue to grow that Gov. Charlie Crist will drop out of the GOP primary to run as an independent, which would result in a four-way contest between the two major parties, a Libertarian, and an independent.
Snitker is running on a platform centered on a Constitutionally-limited federal government. While Snitker and Rubio agree that the government is too large and spends too much money, they differ on how to solve the problem. Snitker proposes a balanced budget Amendment, abolishing the IRS in favor of the Fair Tax, an audit of the Federal Reserve, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.
However, on moral issues, Snitker sometimes sounds more like a Democrat. When asked his position on gay marriage, he queried, “Why should the federal government be involved in marriage at all? Isn’t marriage between two individuals? I haven’t found anything in the Constitution that governs individual relationships, so it is a power reserved to the states or to the people.”
The 34-year-old former Marine and office equipment salesman for AXSA Document Solutions considers himself to be a “citizen statesman” in the tradition of the Founding Fathers. “The framers of the Constitution never envisioned that someone would want to make a 40-year career out of serving in Congress,” he said. “They looked at it as a civic duty — you made the laws and then you went home to live by the laws that you made.”
To achieve that goal, Snitker proposes a two-term limit in the Senate, and a six-term limit in the House, both equaling 12 years maximum. He also supports ending Congressional pensions and perks.
After the announcement, opinion in the blogosphere seemed to be split right down the middle. Many tea partiers and conservative bloggers viewed him as a better alternative to Rubio; a regular guy as opposed to a career politician and lawyer. Most said they liked his strict Constitutional interpretation of the issues. However, others angrily warned that he would split the conservative vote, with a few even speculating that he was part of a progressive conspiracy.
Snitker addressed the split-the-vote issue by saying, “The two-party political class has gotten us to where we are today. If my opponents are concerned about splitting the vote, I suggest they do what is best for the country and drop out of the race.”
While most pundits give him only the slimmest chance of victory in November, Snitker says don’t count him out just yet. “I’m in this to win.”
As Ballot Access News reports,
The only other minor parties that have had a candidate on the ballot for U.S. Senate in Florida since 1924 are the American Party in 1974, the Natural Law and Reform Parties in 2000, and the Veterans Party in 2004.
The only other states that have never had a Libertarian on the ballot for U.S. Senate are Arkansas, Maine, Maryland, and Rhode Island. The Maryland Libertarian Party is ballot-qualified and may nominate someone for U.S. Senate. The Arkansas Libertarian Party is attempting to become ballot-qualified and if it succeeds, it may run someone for U.S. Senate.
Ballot Access News reports that
U.S. House member Kendrick Meek recently submitted a petition to qualify for the Democratic Party primary ballot, instead of paying the filing fee. He is running for U.S. Senate. His petition has been verified. He needed 112,476 valid signatures and the counties have verified 115,557 valid signatures.
Excluding California, Meek’s petition is the first candidate petition in U.S. history to meet a requirement greater than 100,000 signatures.
Any registered voter was free to sign Meek’s petition in lieu of the fee. The fee would have been approximately $10,000, although chances are Meek spent more than that, getting the signatures.
While a handful of states – including Florida before major ballot access reform in the late 1990s – have now or in the past required similar numbers of signatures from any independent or non-major party candidates for statewide office, Democrats and Republicans usually either do not have to gather signatures, or need much smaller numbers of signatures to get on the ballot. An internet search failed to reveal any case where a Democrat or Republican for state office in any state had to, or chose to, collect anything even close to 100,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
Rounding out the alt-party/independent connections in the Florida US Senate race, IPR reported earlier today that
Bob Smith is a former Republican U.S. Senator from the State of New Hampshire, as well as a former Presidential candidate in the Republican and Constitution Parties (though the Constitution Party was then called the US Taxpayer’s Party). In 2000 Smith left his party to run for President as the Constitution Party nominee but very shortly thereafter he switched to running as an Independent, and then soon after that he ended his campaign and rejoined the Republican Party.
In 2010 he has been running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Florida against fellow Republicans Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist. He has polled negligibly and been unable to raise considerable funds, two facts which he blames for his exiting the race.
News of Smith’s withdrawal from the race has fueled speculation that he might rejoin the Constitution Party again.