With Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton facing historically high unfavorable ratings from voters, four other presidential candidates on Florida’s ballot have a chance to influence history.
No third-party candidate has won an electoral vote since George Wallace carried five southern states in 1968. But nominees of minor parties can be a factor in perennially close Florida. Republican George W. Bush carried the state by 537 votes in 2000 after 97,488 Floridians voted for Ralph Nader and another 40,579 votes went to other candidates.
In addition to Trump and Clinton, Florida’s 2016 presidential ballot includes Libertarian Gary Johnson, Jill Stein of the Green Party, Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party and Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente of the Reform Party.
Perhaps this year’s most consequential minor-party candidate — conservative Evan McMullin, who was virtually tied with Trump and Clinton in a recent Utah poll — is not on the ballot in Florida. The Independent Party of Florida, which has more than 250,000 registered voters in the state, submitted paperwork for McMullin but the Division of Elections rejected it because the party “is not affiliated with a ‘national party’” as defined by state law.
A look at the minor-party presidential candidates on Florida’s ballot:
Gary Johnson — The former Republican governor of New Mexico was also the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 2012. He got 0.5 percent of the vote in Florida and 1 percent nationwide. Johnson, who campaigned in Florida with running mate William Weld in August, favors replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, reducing military spending and U.S. “meddling” in other nations, legalizing marijuana, ending mandatory minimum sentences, imposing term limits on Congress and creating more efficient work visas, background checks and incentives to pay taxes for immigrants rather than trying to “militarize” the border.
Jill Stein — Stein was also the Green Party’s nominee in 2012, drawing 8,947 votes or 0.1 percent statewide. Calling climate change “the greatest threat to humanity in our history,” she would ban offshore drilling, fracking and other “destructive energy extraction.” Stein favors universal health care, tuition-free college, a $15 minimum wage, an immediate moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, a “welcoming path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants and cutting military spending by at least 50 percent.
Darrell Castle — A 68-year-old attorney and Vietnam veteran from Tennessee, Castle was on the ballot in 2012 as the running mate for Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode. The ticket got 2,607 votes, or less than 0.1 percent, in Florida. This year, Castle is on the ballot in 24 states. His platform includes withdrawing from the United Nations, abolishing the Federal Reserve, opposing abortion and elevating private property rights and states rights. “His first goal is to win the White House,” said party spokeswoman Karen Murray. “The second thing would be to build the Constitution Party and more than that to make kind of the nucleus of a cause to restore liberty in a way that focuses on the constitution rather than on a party.”
Roque de la Fuente — A resident of Orlando, de la Fuente was also a Democratic candidate for Senate this year and got 5.4 percent in the Aug. 30 primary to finish behind U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson and attorney Pam Keith. His presidential platform includes a call for reducing military involvement and spending, incentivizing alternative energy production and limiting increases in the federal budget to the growth of Gross Domestic Product. The Reform Party got 9.1 percent of the vote in Florida in 1996 with Ross Perot as its nominee but only 820 votes in 2012 with Andre Barnett as its standard bearer.
Evan McMullin — While not appearing on the ballot in Florida, McMullin’s candidacy has significant Florida connections. Chief strategist Joel Searby, senior adviser Rick Wilson, social media director Sarah Rumpf, African-American coordinator Tyler Lattimore and finance team member Ann Herberger are all Floridians.
Posted on October 21, 2016 by George Bennett