Thursday, July 15, 2010

Green for governor: Rich Whitney's long shot campaign

Richard J. Whitney is a rare breed in Illinois – pro-gun but anti-war, outspoken yet diplomatic, a former socialist turned Illinois Green Party founder.

Whitney has raised about $29,000 dollars since December, but points out the campaign is significantly ahead of the $16,866 Whitney reported for the same time period last time he ran for governor.

Dr. Kent Redfield, a political science researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois-Springfield, says he doesn’t expect any statewide candidate in Illinois to make much headway without spending at least $10 million. Redfield, who has studied Illinois politics since 1979, says third-party candidates will always have trouble winning in Illinois.

“The system is obviously structured to favor established parties in a two-party system,” Redfield says. “You’ve got to be a policy alternative, and you must get candidates who can be attractive – like Ralph Nader, Jesse Ventura or Ross Perot. But they still need a combination of organizational strength, leadership, presence and visibility. Even then, historically, successful third parties have tended to be co-opted or absorbed by the other parties.

“You really have to get some huge realignment of voters, and one established party has to become really marginalized,” Redfield continues. “Third-party candidates usually pick up the protest vote – voters who can’t bring themselves to vote for either of the main party candidates.”

Redfield's comments were featured in a July 15, 2010, edition of the Illinois Times.

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