Sunday, November 14, 2010

When a minor party becomes a major one

So the nominee of the American Constitution Party (that'd be Tom Tancredo) won way more than 10 percent of the vote in Colorado's recent gubernatorial election.  By state law, that makes the ACP a "major" party for the next four years, which comes with a number of benefits, including higher placement on general election ballots and easier fundraising.  But, as the Denver Post reports, there are some notable downsides.
  • The party has to hold caucuses in each of the state's 3,215 precincts in early 2012. The party currently has 30 dues paying members to carry out this task.
  • The party has to conduct primaries, which is ironic since its own platform opposes primaries.
  • It has to appoint members to 17 state boards.  Again -- only 30 party members to begin with.
This is all fairly amusing, but it also highlights some of the important differences between major parties and minor ones.  Minor parties usually get the luxury of ideological purity in exchange for not bearing any of the burdens of actual governing.  They run candidates to make statements or raise issues that are otherwise being ignored.  There's usually little real chance of their candidates actually winning anything.

Now the ACP has a much bigger platform than it ever had before.  I wonder if they'll see this time as a blessing or a curse.


Anonymous said...

Won't they just import some of the existing party infrastructure from the Republican Party?

Seth Masket said...

I don't really see how that would happen. I doubt many Republican activists would feel like moving over to help a party that would likely hurt Republicans in a general election. Unless ACP can pull in another high profile candidate -- or maybe even Tancredo again -- to run for a major office (a House seat) in 2012, there's no reason for any committed Republicans to help the ACP out.