Voter anger and frustration over the recent political fighting in Washington over the government shutdown could be boosting the effort to create a third political party in South Carolina. The American Party is trying to get the 10,000 petition signatures it needs to get certified for the 2014 elections.
The party has a booth set up at the State Fair. Former state education superintendent Dr. Jim Rex has been working the booth, asking registered voters to sign the petition. The party has close to 6,000 signatures so far.
“We thought we'd pick up a couple thousand here at the State Fair, but surely what's happening in Washington has made people more aware than perhaps they were before about how broken the system is," he says.
Rex is a former Democrat, and he and Dr. Oscar Lovelace are two of the organizers of the new party. Rex told one petition signer, "Oscar Lovelace is a Republican who ran against Mark Sanford in 2006. So you have a former Democrat, former Republican saying this isn't working. We've got to try something different."
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll may show why the petition effort is more successful than expected. The poll found that 60 percent of Americans would vote to get rid of every person in Congress, even their own representatives, if they could. That’s the highest rate ever for that poll.
Voter Bobby Campbell signed the petition at the State Fair and said, "I'm pretty upset, but I'm ready for a change."
Dlynn Curcio also signed the petition, saying of recent events in Washington, "I just think it's irritating and I just stopped watching it because I don't like what's going on."
But Rex was sure to point out to potential petition signers, "If you decide to sign, you're not supporting the party because you don't even know who our candidates are yet; you're simply saying you like the idea of another choice."
He says the party does have about 30 people who are interested in running as American Party candidates if it gets certified.
"Money's going to be a challenge. I know that,” he says. “I mean, we're going up against arguably the two largest, well-funded organizations on the planet. But, you know, a good idea doesn't cost as much to explain and sell as a bad idea. So I don't think we have to compete dollar and dollar. I think people are ready for a change, a different approach."
One of the American Party’s principles is that it would legislate and govern from the middle. It would also impose term limits on all of its candidates. You can read its entire platform here.
The South Carolina Democratic Party wouldn’t comment on the new party’s efforts, but a spokesperson said state Democrats had seen an increase in support because of the shutdown, which it blamed on Republicans.
The South Carolina Republican Party said voters have shown they support the state Republican Party and its policies.
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