Let’s be honest: this year’s gubernatorial election is pretty boring. There isn’t much of a difference between the Democratic and Republican candidates. Charlie Baker is so close to being a Democrat that one of his campaign ads brags about all the Democrats who are voting for him instead of the actual Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley. Most people couldn’t be bothered to vote in the primaries, which doesn’t bode well for the turnout in the election.
The most interesting story, then, might just be the three candidates you haven’t heard much about: the independents.
Sure, this state hasn’t had a governor from a third party since 1858, when Henry Gardner, of the Know-Nothing party, left office. But that hasn’t stopped Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively, and Jeff McCormick from trying!
What it’s like to run as an independent? And why anyone would put the time (and money) into what is a longshot at best?
Why Even Bother?
“We just can’t continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result,’’ McCormick says. “We need a break from the status quo. And I am running as an independent because that is very much a break from the system we have now.’’
McCormick, a venture capitalist whose Saturn Partners funded those ubiquitous Duck Tours, thinks the two main parties are too tied to special interest groups to really serve the voters.
Falchuk, a former health care executive, also believes the current two-party system needs to change. He has big plans for a new, better party: the United Independent Party. If he can get at least 3 percent of the vote in November, he’ll succeed.
“This is what voters are looking for,’’ Falchuk says of his idea for a third party. “As a businessperson, anytime you see a market that’s not working and companies that are not being responsive to their customers, that’s an opportunity.’’
And finally, there’s Lively, who is, well, lively. He’s also a pastor and the most controversial of the five candidates (more on that later). He decided to run as an independent because the Republican party wasn’t conservative enough for him.
“I’m an independent running mostly on what would be recognized as a Republican platform,’’ Lively says. “Charlie Baker’s a Republican running as a Democrat, and Martha Coakley’s a Democrat running as a Socialist.’’
Hope Against Hope
Lively also seems to be the most realistic of the three about his chances to actually win this thing.
“It would take a miracle from God to win the governorship,’’ he says. “But that’s not my primary purpose. My purpose is to bring the biblical values and perspective back into the political process so that other people will follow that example.’’
Falchuk is looking for hope in the polls — not miracles from God. He notes that while the poll numbers could be better (a recent Boston Globe poll had him at 2 percent, tied with Lively), he’s confident he’ll at least get the 3 percent needed to make the United Independent Party official.
And McCormick, who came in at 1 percent in that same poll, seems the most optimistic of them all, saying “if people vote the way they feel, we have a good chance.’’ He admits that if the electorate decides instead to vote for “the lesser of two evils’’ in Baker or Coakley, “we won’t prevail.’’
The (pretty big) chance none of the independents will prevail hasn’t stopped Falchuk or McCormick from putting large amounts of their own money into their campaigns. Falchuk has donated $1,445,000 to his own campaign – that’s 81 percent of the total funds raised. McCormick has donated $750,000, which is 57 percent of the total. Lively, on the other hand, gave $2,000 to his campaign as a loan. So far, he’s raised a little more than $28,000.
These Guys Have Issues. No, Really.
Both Falchuk and McCormick see healthcare costs as one of the biggest problems facing the state. McCormick plans to solve this by working in partnership with healthcare providers to “embrace the models that lower costs and do not compromise quality.’’ Emphasizing primary care, he says, is one way to do this.
“We can take a lot of waste out of healthcare,’’ Falchuk says. He believes that hospitals monopolizing the market and driving up prices is a big contributors to rising healthcare costs. He wants to create a set fee schedule for all hospitals that would incentivize them to keep people well instead of waiting to treat them when they’re sick. It would also force them to operate more efficiently to keep costs down because they can’t just raise their prices.
McCormick also wants to create jobs.
“The state can help create a platform for growth by making it easier to do business here,’’ McCormick says. “I travel throughout the entire state and I hear complaints from entrepreneurs all the time about the regulation and the burdens … we have one of the worst bureaucracies in the country in the 49th-most (we’re assuming he meant “least’’) expensive state to do business in. That’s a problem if we want job growth, which is absolutely necessary.’’
Lively believes the biggest problem in this state is abortions.
“I would do everything in my power to stop the killing of unborn babies,’’ Lively says. “Everything within the bounds of the law that I could possibly do to stop the killing of unborn babies and stop the killing centers.’’
An organization run by Lively is currently collecting signatures for a petition to place “in God we trust’’ on Springfield City Hall. Still, he’s convinced that a candidate can run on biblical principles while maintaining a separation of church and state.
As for the economy, Lively, who moved to Springfield in 2008 after asking God to find a “post-Christian’’ city he could “re-Christianize,’’ would like to see less money spent on public assistance. He’d like Mass. to follow in Africa’s footsteps.
“We need to liberate inner city families and individuals from government dependency,’’ Lively says. “Not continue to perpetuate this model of cradle-to-grave social benefits.’’
One way to do that would be to follow the “microfinancing’’ model he’s seen on his missionary work in Africa, which teaches people how to run a business and become self-sufficient. Lively decries the “nanny state’’ Massachusetts has become and wants to limit its powers (unless those powers are making abortion illegal, in which case he wants to add a “personhood’’ amendment to the constitution, or making casinos illegal because they make money by preying on people who can’t control their gambling addictions).
Speaking of Lively’s work in Africa, (here comes the controversial part) he’s being sued in civil court for crimes against humanity in Uganda. The suit, brought by Sexual Minorities of Uganda, accuses him of inspiring the country’s anti-gay laws, which punished homosexuality with life in prison until it was annulled in August. SMUG is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which Lively describes as a “Marxist law firm.’’
“It’s awful,’’ Lively says. “Crimes against humanity is a category of law created for prosecuting the Nazis in 1945. It’s outrageous.’’
And speaking of the Nazis, Lively co-authored a book in 1995 called “The Pink Swastika,’’ which says that, far from being victims of the Nazis and the Holocaust, gays were actually responsible for creating the Nazi party.
For someone who has been so vocally opposed to homosexuality, Lively sure has a lot of seemingly gay iconography (rainbows) on his campaign website. He says this is intentional.
“Amen!’’ Lively says. “The rainbow belongs to God, it doesn’t belong to the gays … I find it rather insulting to people of faith because the rainbow has always been a symbol of God’s authority and power, and to have it being wrapped around sodomy and sanitizing what God has condemned, or attempting to sanitize what God has condemned, that’s bothersome to me. So I actually am promoting a campaign to reclaim the rainbow.’’
Both Falchuk and McCormick are quick to distance themselves from Lively.
“Scott Lively has extremely different views than I have,’’ McCormick says.
“It’s pretty clear what he’s about,’’ Falchuk says. “I don’t know what to make of him other than what everybody sees. I mean, it’s pretty self-evident.’’
All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go
One of the biggest frustrations of running for office, at least for Falchuk, is being excluded from participating in certain debates. It’s hard to fight an exclusive two party system when you yourself are excluded from certain parts of the process. While some debates, including Tuesday night’s, are open to all five candidates, the October 21 debate sponsored by The Globe and WGBH is for Baker and Coakley only. And the October 27 debate sponsored by NECN, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce recently un-invited Falchuk and McCormick from its debate (Lively wasn’t invited in the first place).
“Who do they think they are to say that we don’t count?’’ Falchuk says.
It’s Been Real
Snubs aside, all three candidates agree that the process of running for office has been fulfilling.
“It’s a lot of hours and it’s a lot of work,’’ McCormick says. “But the flipside is knowing that there are so many people when they hear the story that embrace it and say ‘you’re what I’m looking for.’ That obviously is extremely reinforcing.’’
“It’s been enormously fulfilling, it’s incredibly difficult, it’s an amazing experience,’’ Falchuk says. “I know we’re doing something that’s right.’’
“I’ve been enjoying myself,’’ Lively says. “I like to talk to people, I like to advocate for the things that I believe in, and the political process provides the opportunity to do that.’’
It’s a process that won’t end in a win, barring a miracle.
“Here in Massachusetts, yes it’s true, it’s been a long time since we had someone that was a non Democrat or Republican governor,’’ Falchuk says.
“But in 2004, it’d been 86 years since the Red Sox had won a World Series.’’
He’s got a point.