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The Independence Party of Minnesota (often abbreviated MNIP, IP, or IPM), formerly the Reform Party of Minnesota, is the third largest political party in Minnesotamarker, behind the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) and Republican Party. It is the political party of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (1999–2003), and endorsed former U.S. Representative Tim Penny as a candidate for the 2002 gubernatorial election. Originally an affiliate of the Reform Party USA, the party has been the state affiliate of the Independence Party of America since January 26, 2008. The party has fielded candidates for most statewide races and has been considered a major party by the state since 1994, in addition to the DFL and Republican parties

Party formation

The party was formed in 1992 by Minnesota supporters of Ross Perot, and fielded Dean Barkley that year as a candidate for a seat in the US House of Representatives. Other Perot supporters worked as part of United We Stand America, and some eventually found their way to the Independence Party after the elections. Over the following years, the party began to field candidates in other state races. In 1995 the IPM affiliated with the national Reform Party and renamed itself the Reform Party of Minnesota.

The state party carried that name until it disaffiliated from the national party in 2000 due to factional dissent and the increasing influence of Pat Buchanan. The party immediately changed its name back to Independence Party. Buchanan, his most influential opponents having left the party, went on to become the Reform Party's candidate for president.

Platform

Theoretically, the party is meant to be centrist, though the group might be somewhat more accurately described as “fiscally conservative and socially inclusive,” a phrase Ventura often used. The party platform leaves social issues such as abortion, guns, and gay rights to be decided by individual candidates.



On 2004's Super Tuesday, March 2, the party held caucuses around the state along with Minnesota's other three parties. Since the organization had no national party affiliation, it merely ran a straw poll to gauge the opinions of members with regard to the available presidential candidates in the 2004 election. For the poll, the group used instant-runoff voting, a voting method that has been gaining interest in the state. Additionally, the party had several fairly progressive agenda items to vote on. For a bit of levity, there was also a vote on the mascot to use for the party. Three top possibilities were the bison, hawk, and white buffalo. (According to the IP's website, "The Independence Party...will decide on a party mascot at its convention this year. These results serve to guide to that choice, rather than decide the matter." Technology was also involved in the IPM's caucusing, as it used the Internet to conduct a two-day online “virtual caucus” for people who were unable to attend the evening of Super Tuesday.

On March 5, 2004, the party announced that the presidential winner was John Edwards, who had privately circulated his decision to withdraw shortly before IP members voted. The Super Tuesday ballot was probably the first state-wide experiment in instant-runoff voting. The Bison won the mascot vote, out-polling the nearest competitors by a 19% margin.

In May 2005, Peter Hutchinson, who was Minnesota Finance Commissioner in the Rudy Perpich administration, announced that he was planning to seek the Independence Party's nomination for governor in the 2006 election. Hutchinson finished 3rd of 6 earning 141,735 votes for 6.4% of the total vote.

As of 2006, the party has had two members in the Minnesota Senate. Bob Lessard of International Falls, joined the party in 2001 after he was re-elected to the Senate as an independent with 54.3% of the vote[832588]. He did not seek re-election in 2002. Also in the 2002 election, Sheila Kiscaden of Rochester was turned down for endorsement for re-election to the Minnesota Senate by the Republican party. She joined the IP and won re-election, giving the Independence Party its first victory in a Minnesota legislative election. She joined the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in January 2006. There have been no members of the IPM in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

In the 2006 elections IP 5th district congressional candidate Tammy Lee received 51,456 votes for 21.01% of the total vote. Lee's strong showing resulted in part from her unusually strong (for third parties) fundraising, Lee raised $228,938 for her run.

In May 2008, a "Draft Dean Barkley" movement started on the web to encourage the former senator to run again. He accepted, and came in 3rd, winning a significant 15% of all votes cast. His candidacy had a significant impact on a race in which the eventual winner Al Franken and then-incumbent Senator Norm Coleman were separated by only 312 votes.Two other federal candidates, David Dillon in the 3rd congressional district and Bob Anderson in the 6th congressional district, received 10% of the vote in their races.Thus, 2008 is high-water mark for the Minnesota Independence Party in both the number of federal candidates running and the percent of vote received--both key measures of the growing base of support.

Famous members

  • Jesse Ventura - Governor of Minnesota: 1999-2003.
  • Dean Barkley - U.S. Senator from Minnesota: 2002-2003 (Appointed by Gov. Ventura to fill a vacancy due to Sen. Paul Wellstone's death)
  • Mae Schunk - Lt. Governor of Minnesota: 1999-2003
  • Richard McCluhan - Former chairman of the party during Jesse Ventura's presence in office.
  • Tim Penny - 2002 Independence Party candidate for Governor
  • Peter Hutchinson - 2006 Independence Party candidate for Governor


References

  1. [1].
  2. Independence Party of Minnesota
  3. [2]
  4. [3]
  5. [4]


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