They kick, they scratch, they fight for attention, but third-party candidates just don't seem to get any respect in Colorado. And despite the biggest push by Libertarian and Green Party candidates in state history, no third wheels made it into the Rocky Mountain News's October 22 Election 2000 Voter Guide -- except those running for president, who were listed in a tiny box on page 3 of the guide.
To protest the snub, a coalition of third-party candidates and constituents plans to demonstrate outside the Rocky this week, according to Michelle Konieczny, who serves as the Libertarian Party's state fundraising director and is also the campaign chairwoman for Libertarian state House District 24 candidate Shawn Glazer. "We're going to get together and let them know we won't stand for it," Konieczny says. There are more Libertarian candidates in Colorado this year than there are Democrats, she points out, and both Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne and vice-presidential candidate Art Olivier visited the state in recent months.
"We're a little upset," says Patrick West, a Natural Law Party candidate running for state Senate District 17 in the Boulder area. "Third parties have worked really hard to get where we are, and to be excluded from a major newspaper like this is frustrating, to say the least." And the Rocky added insult to injury by reporting that incumbent Republican U.S. representatives Bob Schaffer and Joel Hefley are running "unopposed," when they really face competition -- minor though it may be -- from Natural Law and Libertarian candidates and, in Schaffer's case, the American Constitution Party as well. "The story I've heard is that they didn't have enough space," West says. "But if you don't have enough space, at least mention us."
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According to Konieczny, an editor at the Rocky told the Libertarian Party that a lack of space was, in fact, the problem. (News managing editor Deb Goeken didn't return a phone call from Westword.)
The Denver Post, on the other hand, "did pretty much everyone, which I feel is the way it's supposed to be," Konieczny says. Then again, the Post's election guide, also distributed last Sunday, was more than twice as big as the Rocky's, weighing in at 52 pages versus 24 (although the News's pages are slightly larger). Yes, the Post listed just about anybody running for anything, including you...er, make that You, a Natural Law Party candidate for state Senate District 18, a seat also coveted by Libertarian Mark Nikkel, Republican Steven Hatfield and incumbent Democrat Ron Tupa.
You's chances don't look good -- not just because Tupa is a popular politician, but also because the self-described "homemaker/ entrepreneur/spiritual volunteer" has failed to take advantage of the marketing opportunities presented by her unusual name. For example, You's campaign slogan is the relatively tepid "You for Colorado State Senate."
Next time, try this: "A vote for You is a vote for me."