Third parties still struggle for recognition

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    By Eric Jenkins

    This was not a good year for third party candidates.

    No third party candidate came close to winning a major position in Utah, with only a fraction receiving over 5 percent of the vote.

    The lackluster results have some third party candidates disappointed. Just ask Jeremy Friedbaum.

    Friedbaum ran for Governor in Utah with the Independent American party. His candidacy received national media attention when he went on a hunger strike to protest his exclusion from the debates.

    He was eventually allowed to participate in the final Gubernatorial debate, but it did not seem to help his campaign. He finished a distant third with just under 2 percent of the vote.

    “I was disappointed in the results,” said Friedbaum. “I thought I would get at least 5 percent.”

    Now that the elections are over, Friedbaum has to face the repercussions of his decision to run.

    His full-time, 5-month campaign did not allow him time to pursue his vocation making harps. Now, with Christmas around the corner, he finds himself without any wares to sell during an important time of the year.

    “Christmas is when I do most of my business,” said Friedbaum. “I don’t know what I am going to do.”

    He is looking into selling his recreational vehicle to help offset the cost of running for office.

    Looking back on the time, financial and physical burdens caused by his campaign, Friedbaum said he is still glad he ran.

    “I have no regrets,” he said. “I did the right thing and I tried as hard as I could.”

    Friedbaum does not think that a vote for a third party candidate is a waste. He believes voters have a moral obligation to vote for the candidate who best represents their beliefs, whether or not they have a good chance of winning.

    “I believe we are here on earth to choose right from wrong,” he said. “Part of that is what we do in the ballot box.”

    Friedbaum does see a silver lining to his loss.

    “We established ourselves as Utah’s premier third party,” he said. “And we gave people a choice.”

    Friedbaum said he plans on continuing his crusade to bring awareness for alternatives to the traditional two parties.

    “Maybe something will happen in Utah where people will feel a need to get out of the two parties – but we won’t count on that,” he said. “We are going to work all year to get people involved.”

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