Gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk says independent party has strong appeal
PITTSFIELD -- Gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk believes his independent campaign has more than an excess of enthusiasm: It has what most independents have lacked -- a sustainable political party.
That difference, plus the swelling discontent he sees among voters yearning for alternatives, could make him a contender, he said.
"It would be historic," Falchuk acknowledges, but he believes an independent party could elect a governor. If not in 2014, he said, it could build toward electoral victories in the future.
Beginning with a infusion of his own money, the 44-year-old Newton resident founded the United Independent Party in January and expects to be on the state's November ballot for governor, along with his running mate, longtime municipal planner Angus Jennings, of Concord.
The basic requirements for independents are that they gather 10,000 voter signatures. Falchuk, who has been traveling the state, organizing his campaign and the new party, predicts he will get double that number by the July 29 deadline.
"The first step is you have to create a new framework," Falchuk said during a recent visit to The Eagle newsroom. He said the organization he envisions could have wide appeal. Rather than having a narrow philosophical focus like many third parties, he said the party would be progressive yet pragmatic in a fiscal sense.
Ironically, Falchuk said, Massachusetts might be "the perfect state in which to do this," despite its reputation as the bluest Democratic stronghold.
If an independent party garners 3 percent of the vote in an election, that would qualify it for future ballots, he said, and it could conceivably become the main alternative to the Democrats in legislative races -- in some cases there is no Republican challenger.
Recent poll numbers are revealing, Falchuk said, in that 53 percent of state residents are not enrolled in any party (about 36 percent are enrolled as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans). And 58 percent in one poll said they would like to see an independent party, Falchuk said.
"We could be in a position to be the second party [in some races]," he said.
On his swings through every region of the state, Falchuk said he's heard complaints that the political system is unresponsive or "rigged," and that lawmakers are focused on philosophical differences and on "beating up on one another," not on solving problems.
Two overriding issues surfaced, he said: "People say they want to know that everyone is treated equally and in general that [public] money is being spent wisely," he said. "That is what the voters say they're looking for."
Many voters complain that decisions are "based on big money interests," he said, and that as a result the cost of health care, housing, education -- and in general the cost of living in Massachusetts -- is too high.
"It is not surprising that the economy suffers as a result," Falchuk said.
A former executive with the Best Doctors Inc., which is based in Boston but assists millions around the globe with medical diagnostic services, Falchuk said the health care system that led to the demise of North Adams Regional Hospital has long been in need of a structural overhaul.
He said he favors a system like one developed by Kaiser Permanente in California or a system being implemented in Maryland, which financially rewards health care providers for keeping people healthy, rather than treating them only when they become ill.
Other than gathering signatures to put his ticket on the ballot, Falchuk said his growing campaign team has attracted numerous volunteers and is organizing across the state. The major party candidates, he said, have primarily engaged in old-style attack and counter-attack campaigns, which he said voters soon tune out.
His advice for voters, he said, is "listen to the candidates and go with your gut." What voters have to do "is think of this as a job interview," he said.
In that regard, Falchuk said he has focused less on photo ops during his travels around the state than on listening to local residents and noting what each region needs most and on what it does well. In the Berkshires, he cited a need for greater access to public transportation and Pittsfield's transformation from a factory-based economy to a cultural hub.
More information on the candidate is available at http:// www.falchuk2014.org.
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