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Independent's Day



    At the end of Carl Officer’s first go-round as mayor of East St. Louis, Illinois in 1991 the city was $150 million in debt, too broke to pick up its own garbage or pay the cops. The state appointed a panel to look into its fishy financial dealings, which included $80,000 in limo-rides for the mayor.

    Officer was bounced from City Hall that year, but made a comeback. He returned to the mayor’s office in 2003, and has been trying to climb even higher. He lost a primary for state senate in February, so he figured, what the heck, I’ll run for the U.S. Senate. Officer, who turned in petitions Monday as a candidate of the Practical Party, is one of 57 candidates trying to get on the November ballot either as an independent or with an alternative party.  

    One of the more high-profile candidates is a retread of sorts, in right-wing provocateur Andy Martin. During his failed run for the Republican Senate nomination, Martin called Mark Kirk gay and accused him of exaggerating his military record. He was written off as a nut, but now a gay D.C. blogger and the Chicago Tribune are saying the same things. As the would-be nominee of the Reform Party, Martin issued a press release insisting Kirk has “mental problems” and “a personality disorder.” The mainstream media are already picking up on those characterizations.

    Another retread candidate is Randy Stufflebeam, who won 19,000 votes as a write-in candidate for governor in 2006 (that’s all he could get against Rod Blagojevich?) Now, he’s the Constitution Party’s candidate for Senate, describing himself as a “principled independent Reagan moral conservative.”

    And then there’s the politically promiscuous Christopher Pedersen of Joliet, who hedged his bets by filing for state representative, state senate, secretary of state, U.S. Senate, governor and lieutenant governor. Pedersen is no doubt aware that most independent candidates have their petitions challenged, so maybe he’s hoping one will stick.

    Ward Room’s prediction: none of Pedersen’s petitions will stick. Neither will those of any alternative candidates. The Democrats and Republicans spend too much money on election lawyers to let that happen. If you want to be an indie voter, you’ll have to write the names Officer, Martin, Stufflebeam or Pedersen in yourself.