We soon won’t have Buddy Roemer to kick around in the GOP any longer — if we ever did. Today, Roemer will announce his withdrawal as a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, and instead campaign for the American Elect party. If you haven’t heard of the American Elect Party, well …
Frustrated and largely ignored, Buddy Roemer is ending his bid for the Republican nomination and will instead seek the presidency on a third-party ticket.
The former Louisiana governor will make his plans official Thursday at a news conference in Santa Monica, within hours of another Republican debate that he’s been excluded from.
It’s that fact that is driving his decision. The party and the major television networks have “turned their backs on the democratic process” by excluding him, even though he’s a former governor and congressman, he said in a statement.
Roemer has been waging a campaign based in part on ending the influence of special interests in American politics. He capped donations to his campaign at just $100, and raised about $340,000 from individual donors.
He says he will now run for the nomination of Americans Elect, an independent group seeking ballot access in all 50 states that plans to hold an Internet primary to choose a bipartisan ticket.
Roemer will also seek the nomination of the Reform Party, the legacy of H. Ross Perot’s largely self-funded independent runs for President in 1992 and 1996. It hit its high-water mark in Minnesota’s 1998 gubernatorial election when Jesse Ventura narrowly won a three-way race. Unfortunately for the Reform Party, Ventura was singularly uninterested in both reform and governing. His single term ended in embarrassment as Republicans and Democrats crafted budgets without him after Ventura spent a season while Governor as an announcer for the XFL football league. In 2000, the party nominated Pat Buchanan as its presidential nominee, who had no impact on the race at all. By 2004, the Reform Party ended up endorsing Ralph Nader on the Green ticket, and in 2008 nominated that household name Ted Weill to lead their ticket. Thanks to a dispute over control of the party, Weill only appeared on the ballot in his home state of Mississippi … and got only 470 votes.
That is the unfortunate track record of the most significant third party in modern American electoral history.
Independent bids usually have almost no impact on presidential elections, unless the candidate has the money and the inclination to spend millions of his own money or can find substantial funding elsewhere. Perot is an example of the former in the 1992 election; he changed the outcome of the race, but never won a single electoral vote for himself. Nader is an example of the latter, but even that might not have been true in 2000 had it not been for an extraordinarily close race in Florida. He only took 2.7% of the national popular vote, as opposed to Perot’s 19% in 1992.
Roemer’s GOP bid has always been a puzzlement. Roemer has never won office as a Republican; he switched parties during his term as Governor in Louisiana and ended up third in the open primary when he ran for re-election. Until this election, Roemer hasn’t been an organizing or philosophical voice in the GOP, either. He’s a charming candidate to be sure and has much to contribute on ideas for reform if he’s serious, but the move to court the American Elect and Reform Parties strongly suggest that he’s less serious about those efforts and more interested in making himself the point. Nevertheless, it’s impossible not to like Roemer and cheer him on a bit, even if you can’t quite take him seriously.