Number of 2010 independent and third party Assembly candidates in Badger State reach highest level since 1974

While political observers wonder whether the national Republican wave will oust the Democratic Party from power in top of the ticket races for governor and U.S. Senator in Wisconsin, there is another measure of political activity that suggests Badger State residents are not happy with the status quo.

A Smart Politics analysis of more than 2,000 general election State Assembly races over the past 40 years finds that the number of districts with independent or third party candidates on the ballot, as well as the total number of such candidates, are at their highest levels since 1974.

In November’s elections for the Wisconsin Assembly, 25 non-major party candidates across 23 districts will be on the general election ballot, the most in both categories in 36 years.

Overall, 12 independents are running for Assembly seats, in addition to seven Libertarians, two Constitution Party candidates, one candidate from the Wisconsin Green Party, and three other minor party candidates.

One of these dozen independent candidates is Bob Ziegelbauer in the state’s 25th District, who had been elected nine times to the Assembly as a Democrat from 1992 through 2008.

Ziegelbauer, one of the most conservative members of that caucus, left the party in mid-June of this year.

The 25 independent and third party candidates running in 2010 are seven more than the combined number of such candidates who ran in 2006 (7) and 2008 (11) when anti-Republican sentiment ran high in the Badger State. Democrats seized control of the lower chamber in 2008 after winning back the State Senate in 2006.

In fact, the number of non-major party candidates has reached 20 during just two election cycles since the mid-1970s – in 1996 (23) and 2002 (20).

But it’s not simply an anti-Democratic mood in Wisconsin that is leading to these third party candidacies.

Independent and third party candidates have sprung up in nine districts currently controlled by Republicans (Districts 4, 27, 31, 32, 34, 41, 50, 86, and 87), with Libertarian candidates running in three of them (31, 34, 50) along with “Low taxes, small government” candidate Frederick Melms in another (86).

Independent and third party candidates are running in another 12 districts controlled by Democrats (8, 10, 13, 26, 48, 61, 62, 64, 72, 76, 77, 85) and two controlled by independents (25, 67).

The surge in candidates challenging the two major parties is at its highest level since the early 1970s, when the American Party fielded dozens of candidates across the Badger State.

In 1972, 42 independent and American Party candidates across 39 Assembly districts were on the general election ballot, followed by 25 candidates across 24 districts in 1974.

The state’s only Assembly candidate who was victorious in 2008 without running under the Democratic or Republican party banner, independent Assemblyman Jeffrey Wood from the state’s 67th District, is not running for reelection this November after a series of substance abuse and other arrests over the last two years.

Number of Independent and Third Party General Election State Assembly Candidates in Wisconsin, 1968-2010

Year
Districts
Candidates
2010
23
25
2008
10
11
2006
7
7
2004
15
18
2002
15
20
2000
8
8
1998
14
16
1996
20
23
1994
17
18
1992
17
18
1990
5
5
1988
1
1
1986
2
2
1984
3
4
1982
17
17
1980
13
13
1978
6
6
1976
11
11
1974
24
25
1972
39
42
1970
18
19
1968
8
8

Data compiled by Smart Politics. Sources: State of Wisconsin Blue Book and Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. Election Results on October 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Election Results always reflects your party position and acceptance among the people. In a democracy a party must always listen to the people. In case of Wisconsin State Assembly people wants change in leadership and they want a new face and new policies.