© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why Connecticut gubernatorial candidates seek minor party endorsements

A volunteer sorts mail-in ballots on Primary Day, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Glastonbury, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Jessica Hill
A volunteer sorts mail-in ballots on Primary Day, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Glastonbury, Conn.

Connecticut’s Democratic Governor Ned Lamont and his Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski are seeking the endorsements of two minor parties — the Connecticut Working Families Party and the Independent Party of Connecticut.  Both are on the ballot this November.

WSHU’s Ebong Udoma spoke with Quinnipiac University political scientist Scott McLean about why a third-party endorsement is important. 

SM: That basically means that voters can vote for the Democrat, but vote through the line on the ballot for a different party. And the reason why that's important is that it encourages people who might not otherwise have voted for that major party candidate, an opportunity to strengthen a minor party while still casting a vote for a candidate that has a very good chance of winning.

So both candidates, Bob Stefanowski and Ned Lamont, are really trying to entice and woo these two parties, trying to get those voters to support them for a cross-nomination that can net them tens of thousands of extra votes, potentially.

WSHU: And that's because we've had a history of very close races when it comes to the governor's race in Connecticut?

SM: Absolutely. And also, the kind of high-profile races that most voters are very well-acquainted with the gubernatorial candidates who are at the top of the ticket, not so knowledgeable about lieutenant governor and on down the list, down to even their local campaign. Also, these minor parties don't have a lot of people, so they're not able usually to fill in a distinct candidate of their own for every single office on the ballot. So this, you know, is kind of a stopgap measure.

And the ultimate strategy is that they get enough voters to be able to put their own internal candidates onto that ballot line. But that's a double-edged sword, because as we've seen with the Independent Party, they'll have several candidates who actually are good candidates, and are, you know, much more in line with that party, who are competing with people from the major parties who would like the cross-endorsement.

I think it's one of those things that I like to call a growing pain for the party. When a party gets large enough, where it actually starts to have these kinds of internal debates and controversies, it's actually a good sign. It's a sign of growth, and it's a sign of development.

WSHU: And also, if a winning candidate has minor party support, that keeps the minor party on the ballot for the next election, it helps the minor parties in that way?

SM:  Yeah and this was a real breakthrough. You know, these minor parties really sued and went to court and really wanted to be able to endorse candidates in one of the major parties.

Because if you get enough people voting for that party's nominee, regardless of what party they really are, but as long as people are voting that line on the ballot, that if there's a sufficient number of people voting for that party on its line, they get to keep that line on the ballot.

It sort of like becomes their turf or their property, because they've shown that they have a sufficient amount of support for the state to continue keeping them on the ballot. That's all decided through the Secretary of the State's office, and all those details are worked out. But that's basically why this cross-endorsement thing is important for minor parties.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.