Pardon The Inconvenience, But Recount Isn’t Horner’s Fault

For those who witnessed the 2000 presidential election, recounts are a painful walk down memory lane.

Here we go again.

Democrat Mark Dayton leads Republican Tom Emmer by just about 9,000 votes in the Minnesota gubernatorial election, soit appears the race will be decided by automatic recount. State election rules require an automatic recount for any election decided by less than 0.5 percent of the overall vote. Dayton’s lead is just about 0.43 percent.

In 2008, Minnesota endured a recount between two senatorial candidates — Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman — who sparred for eight months while the votes were tallied and the results were taken to court. Franken eventually won but the lengthy process was an embarrassment and left Minnesota underrepresented in the U.S. Senate.

This time around, the candidate I voted for, Independent Tom Horner, is catching a fair amount of heat for siphoning votes from Dayton, à la Ralph Nader-from-Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. There may be a sliver of validity to the argument. If I hadn’t voted Horner, I certainly would’ve voted Dayton. But voting isn’t about convenience or expediency and I didn’t have to choose between Horner or Dayton. I wasn’t about to spurn the candidate I truly wanted to appease Dayton supporters or quicken the vote counting.

Here’s some of the Horner vitriol I’m seeing on Twitter:

  • “Oh goody. Another MN recount. Thanks, Tom Horner! asshole”
  • “Holyfreakincrap the Minnesota Gov. race has entered recount territory. NOOOOO! Damn u Tom Horner. Independence party sucks. Pick a side!”
  • “Frickin 3rd parties!!! From Ross Perot to Tom Horner to Tim Olson & everyone in between, self-serving 3rd parties steal votes from Repubs”
  • “Right now I HATE Tom Horner, well meaning peep as he may be.”

So much for favoring the emergence of a third party, because, as one of the above tweets put it, moderate voters should just “pick a side.”

I say kudos to Tom Horner. Though he pulled just 12 percent of the vote (compared to about 44 percent for both Dayton and Emmer), he commanded respect through nearly 30 debates and represented the Independence Party of Minnesota with class and integrity. I believe Horner’s campaign paired with the feckless back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats will boost membership and interest in his party over the next few years.

Who knows how long Recount 2010(-2011?) will last. No matter what, though, don’t let impatience turn to blame. Horner had every right to run, as did the four other third-party candidates whose combined 24,000 votes kept Dayton and Emmer within the automatic recount margin.

That’s democracy, folks, and it aint’ always a drive-thru. Even if you voted Dayton or Emmer, you should celebrate the fact there were other options on the ballot. One of the two will still win. If you believe in your candidate and your candidate is worth a damn, it shouldn’t matter if there’s two, three, 15 or 100 names on the ballot. If your candidate loses, that’s really no one’s fault but their own.

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6 thoughts on “Pardon The Inconvenience, But Recount Isn’t Horner’s Fault

  1. In all likelihood, Horner will cost Emmer the election because he pulled Republican support from the suburban districts in the west metro (areas T-Paw had to win decisively in order to squeak by in the ’06 general election). I’m not carping about it here, Horner had every right to run and he did an honorable job of representing his beliefs.

    I understand the principal of voting for who you want, but you have to at least acknowledge — if not agree with — the fact that that choice affects the final result. To pretend third-party candidates don’t swing elections when margins are this close is just burring your head in the sand. Spoilers do exist. It cost Gore in 2000, Mike Hatch in 20086, and I believe will ultimately cost Emmer in 2010 after the recount has concluded.

    Instant Runoff Voting is where it’s at, especially if you’d like to see a real third party emerge in American politics.

    P.S. I didn’t think the ’08 recount was an embarrassment. It showed the rest of the country how to avoid naked partisan gamesmanship from influencing results, unlike Florida in 2000. Due process won out in that one, albeit excruciatingly slowly.

  2. I have to imagine Horner took more votes from Emmer than he did Dayton. But either way, the sort of criticism you’re relaying and taking issue with above is indeed silly, almost offensive.

    Horner wasn’t a “spoiler.” His candidacy absolutely, undeniably affected the outcome of the race, but he’s not the gubernatorial equivalent of some last-minute eBay sniper jumping in to piss all over someone’s patience and carefully crafted bidding strategy. He was one of seven candidates on the ballot, and he was there the whole time.

    There’s no rule that establishes the two-party approach to be the official, approved method of governing, despite how things seem sometimes. The idea that he was a “spoiler” stems from a flawed perspective that puts Rs and Ds in some sort of preferred or advantaged position. That, of course, is bullshit.

  3. Mike, you seem to take my previous post to mean that third-party campaigns are illegitimate or somehow inferior. That is not the case, and I don’t think we’re as diametrically opposed on this as you think. You and Andrew seem to be talking about idealism, while I’m talking about weighing the practical cause-and-effect of electoral politics.

    I believe our core difference is whether or not you value moral victories in elections.

    I’m not delegitimizing the candidates who run third-party races or the people who vote for them, in fact I would love to see a viable third party in American politics. But I also know that third-party candidates almost always hurt one candidate more than the other. I’m not necessarily saying they shouldn’t run or you shouldn’t vote for them. All I ask is that you at least be aware of this affect when you cast a ballot, even if it doesn’t factor into your decision.

    I’m probably on the wrong side of cynical (I prefer the term realist, but that’s just a subjective argument anyway). My own decision-making process in this election happened to be the opposite of Andrew’s. I liked Horner, thought Dayton had his warts, and found Emmer to be the worst possible candidate. I did the electoral math and determined a vote for Tom Horner would A) Not put Horner over the top, as he was lagging too far behind, B) Take away a vote that otherwise would’ve gone to Dayton, and C) Consequently helped Tom Emmer’s chances in what sounded like a neck-and-neck race.

    I’m not always so calculating with my vote, the deciding factor in this case just happened to be my disdain for Tom Emmer and all things Tea Party-related. In the end, the difference between Horner and Dayton wasn’t as big of a deal for me as the difference between those two and Emmer.

    And before anyone knocks me for seemingly not understanding the differences between candidates Dayton and Horner, know that I make my decision on what I think is within the political realm of possibilities, not campaign rhetoric. (Horner was correct in his debates when he said there was no possible way Dayton could get the support for his tax-the-rich budget plan even if Democrats had maintained their legislative majorities).

    In a better world, Instant Runoff Voting would be the norm in Minnesota, and there wouldn’t be nearly as much for us to debate over.

  4. * I should amend that second-to-last paragraph to say Horner was correct when he said there was no possible way Dayton could get the support for his tax-the-rich budget plan as he envisioned it, even if Democrats had maintained their legislative majorities.

  5. “I did the electoral math and determined a vote for Tom Horner would…” The tens of thousands of other sad, cynical souls who did that same math made it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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