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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Independents deciding to vote makes difference

    Nearly two weeks ago, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Kansas dropped out of a race between himself, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts and Independent Greg Orman. The candidate, Chad Taylor, was polling third behind Roberts and Orman. He and his campaign figured the chances of defeating Roberts would be improved if Taylor backed Orman, dropped out and asked Democratic voters to support Orman against Roberts in November.

    This is a race that political operatives have been ignoring throughout much of the midterm campaign season. Since 1932, Kansans have only elected Republicans to the Senate. Nonetheless, Kansas is on the list of states likely to switch parties, according to Real Clear Politics. So much for a ruby red Kansas.

    So, why care about Kansas? While it is unlikely that Orman will beat Roberts, it is not impossible. Kansas Republicans aren’t too enthusiastic about Roberts. Roberts narrowly beat Milton Wolf, his ultra-conservative GOP primary opponent — who was Tea Party-backed and is also a distant cousin of President Barack Obama. Yes, you read that correctly.

    Electing Orman would thwart the Republicans’ plans to take the Senate in November. While the next two years may not seem like a big deal, we’re talking about two years that could include fixes to Obamacare (maybe), unknown fighting in the Middle East (for sure), immigration reform (hopefully) and perhaps a Supreme Court vacancy (you never know). This one seat could make a world of difference in Washington, D.C.

    But what exactly does this teach us about our democratic process? What does it say when beating our opponent means one party should drop out of an election? It means voting does matter, especially Independent votes. In Arizona, where Independents outnumber both Democrats and Republicans, every vote counts. While Arizona is home to many conservative and Libertarian-leaning Independents, deciding to vote makes an enormous difference, and we don’t need to look far for an example.

    In the Aug. 26 primary, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Arizona Department of Education Superintendent John Huppenthal were defeated in their primary. While Arizona is a semi-closed primary system in Arizona, meaning only registered Republicans were able to vote in the GOP primary, Independents can still participate if they request a GOP ballot ahead of time. Yes, Independents do matter.
    Did Independents alone beat scandal-plagued Horne and Huppenthal? It is unlikely. Still, it shows the power of Independents who, together with the moderate wings in both parties, can either help elect reasonable people or defeat statewide embarrassments like Horne and Huppenthal.

    While Kansas may seem far away for Arizona voters, it serves as a warning. Vote early and vote often, Arizona independents! Without you, Arizona could end up with strange electoral outcomes of our own. While strange isn’t always bad, let’s please try to avoid the strange dilemma now facing the Sunflower State.

    —Casey Hoyack is a philosophy, politics, economics & law senior. Follow him @Hoyack_

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