Are fringe candidates a distraction?

From left, Captain Jack Sparrow, Jeff Wagner, Michael Gould and Dan Cohen are just a few of the 35 candidates running for Minneapolis mayor. (MPR Photo/Curtis Gilbert)

“One dresses like a pirate, while another runs with the Pirate Party. Ten are running as DFLers, but none with the party’s endorsement,” writes MPR News intern Cody Nelson.

An eclectic pool of 35 candidates is vying to be Minneapolis’ next mayor, but only eight are waging the most active campaigns — spending money and getting invited to debates.

Most candidates on the race’s periphery don’t think they’ll actually become the next mayor. But for some with more serious platforms, it’s about bringing attention to an issue.

Today’s Candidate: Are fringe candidates a distraction?

  • Walter

    Innovative ideas can come from both outside and inside. As with anything, some ideas have merit, some do not. On balance, it is more important to have these outside voices, particularly when political party participation is relatively low and party endorsement carries great weight in selecting candidates.

  • Gary F

    Anyone remember Jesse Ventura?

    Ole Savior, Dick Franson, Sharon Anderson……

    If weren’t for doing stories like this, reporters would have time to ask real questions of the candidates. Like “did you read the Obamacare bill before you voted on it?”

    • If you read the entire story you’ll get a more nuanced look at these candidates and why they are running.

      • Gary F

        Sure, and the people I mentioned above do too.

        But, when they run on the Democratic ticket, it gets less air time. When its a fringe candidate on the Republican side, it’s news.

  • PaulJ

    If you define the extreme wings of either party as fringe, then they are worse than a distraction. The more intentionally bizarre wing nuts are a sort of entertaining distraction.

  • Bill

    We need to hear more than just what the mainstream media wants us to hear. We won’t hear that from mainstream candidates. It takes real candidates like libertarian minded realists to let people know what is really going on and what is really going to happen. When candidates say anything about the government taking care of you in any way, you should run.

  • Sue de Nim

    Though amusement has value, and though opening the process to voices outside the mainstream is in theory a good thing, the ballot is going to be confusing. This election is subsidizing disruptive attention-getting behavior by folks who haven’t matured beyond the classroom cut-up phase. The bar should be raised in some way so that only serious candidates can get on the ballot, say by requiring them to submit a nominating petition with the signatures of 500 registered voters.

  • I understand the appeal of wanting to run to bring attention to your particular issue and with a $20 filing fee, I can see why people might choose to do that. However, unless you are seriously going to campaign, you’re probably hurting your cause a lot more than you are helping it because when your candidacy gets dismissed as being “fringe” or “vanity” in nature, your cause gets dismissed by association. Find another way.

    • Would you suggest any specific changes to the way candidates can file in Minneapolis?

      • Raise the filing fee to something on par with the $500 fee that St. Paul has and also have the option, similar to Sue’s suggestion, to collect nominating signatures in place of the fee. I think 500 is a fair number of signatures to have to collect.

        • PaulJ

          Seems reasonable.

        • Sue de Nim

          $500, or even $5,000, is not high enough to deter some vanity candidates. 500 signatures on a nominating petition would be.

          • Maybe, but it would deter enough of them to not have to worry about 35-candidate field anymore. I’d be willing to bet if a $500 fee were already in place, there would be no more than 8-10 candidates, which isn’t so unreasonable for an open seat.

          • Sue de Nim

            But why should we have to put up with vanity candidates at all? If you can’t show you have the support of at least 500 voters, you have no business taking up space on the ballot.

          • Because not everyone has the same opinion on who is considered a vanity candidate. There are a few in this race that when they first announced their intentions, I thought they had no chance of winning and so were running for the attention but for whatever reasons, their campaigns have garnered more support than I anticipated.