I was tempted to make the title of this post something that included the phrase, “reign of error,” but didn’t because folks have mixed feelings about the Moderate Party. Whatever their feelings, though, apparently not enough people cared to keep the party alive:
By unanimous vote, the R.I. Board of Elections removed the “Moderate Party” that software entrepreneur and two-time candidate for governor Ken Block founded — before bolting for the GOP — as a recognized party.
Under state law, the party needed 5 percent of the overall votes cast in the governor’s race to stay alive.
Unable to recruit any other candidate to carry the torch, Moderate Party Chairman William Gilbert ran himself last year, getting only 2.7 percent in a multi-candidate race that the incumbent, Democrat Gina Raimondo, won with 52.6 percent of the vote.
One can reasonably debate whether the role of the Moderate Party was decisive in the one-two punch to Rhode Island’s gut of electing Lincoln Chafee and then Gina Raimondo. One cannot doubt, though, that it was a big part of two confounding elections, lowering the barriers to entry for serious independent candidates.
I guess we could also reasonably debate whether that development has been healthy. I would suggest not, inasmuch as elections need the clarity and sorting that comes with a binary choice.
Whether we’ll be better off going forward without the Moderate Party or the system’s just too broken, at this point, remains to be seen.
Featured image: A volunteer collects signatures to put the Moderate Party on the ballot in July 2009.