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All votes matter
Aside from the occasional anomaly of a Ross Perot, third-party candidates garner scanty attention from the media or the electorate.
But you needn’t be a billionaire to have a big effect on an election.
Do you know who Greg Kord is?
How about Wes Wagner?
We’d wager that John Kitzhaber, Oregon’s governor-elect, knows those names.
Kitzhaber ought to send each man a thank-you card, in fact.
Kord was the Constitution Party’s candidate for governor in last week’s election.
Wagner headed the Libertarian Party ticket.And though neither candidate was anything like a household name during the campaign, based on vote tallies it looks as though their candidacies secured Kitzhaber’s win over Republican Chris Dudley.
Never mind Multnomah County.
Kitzhaber knew he would clean up in the state’s most populous county. So, we’re certain, did Dudley.
Democrats always dominate there.
But even with the massive Multnomah advantage — Kitzhaber got almost 71 percent of Multnomah’s votes, a net gain of 116,000 votes — his statewide margin over Dudley was fewer than 20,000 votes.
Meanwhile, Kord and Wagner combined received about 37,500 votes.
Had Dudley polled 75 percent of those votes he might well have beaten Kitzhaber.
And that scenario is no stretch, considering that voters who side with either the Constitution or the Libertarian party are not, in the main, sympathetic to the Democratic Party.
Kord’s and Wagner’s statements in the Voters’ Pamphlet, and in particular their emphasis on limiting government spending, have more in common with Dudley’s campaign than with Kitzhaber’s.
And both Kord and Wagner fared better in rural counties — including Baker — where Dudley routed Kitzhaber.
Our point is not to discourage minor parties from putting forward candidates.
But we do urge voters to be realistic, and to consider the ramifications of their decision.
We doubt any of those 37,500 people who went for Kord or Wagner truly believed either candidate would win.
We don’t begrudge anyone using a ballot to make a statement, to express their displeasure with choices proferred by the two major parties.
But we’re pretty certain that, if you polled the Kord and Wagner voters, the vast majority would rather Dudley was moving to Salem than Kitzhaber.
Our message for those voters is that, no, your votes were not wasted.
But they helped to elect the candidate who you least wanted to win. Which sounds more like sabotage than making a statement.
An election this close underscores the importance of every vote.