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For immediate release

Third Party Candidates

NOTE TO EDITORS: These stories are produced by University of Montana journalism


students under the supervision of Professor Dennis Swibold. They may be used without
charge by any news publication, provided editors retain the students’ bylines. Please
contact Professor Swibold (www.dennis.swibold@umontana.edu) with any questions.
You can also find this story and other information on the upcoming election at
www.montanaschoice2008.blogspot.com.

By CHRIS D’ANGELO and MATT MCLEOD


Community News Service
UM School of Journalism

For major party candidates in high-profile races, earning a nomination can be the
thrill of a lifetime and a stepping-stone to the halls of political power and respect. But for
most third party Montana contenders, being on the ballot is often more about sending a
message than winning an election.
Despite the improbable chance of being elected, these candidates continue to fight
the frustration, voicing their opinions in hopes of one day changing our current system of
government.

For Congress: Mike Fellows

In his pursuit of Montana’s lone congressional seat, Libertarian Mike Fellows of


Missoula has found himself in the middle of something truly bizarre
As if Democrat John Driscoll’s unconventional zero-dollar campaigning approach
wasn’t enough, weeks later the contrarian from Helena promised to vote for incumbent
Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg on Nov. 4.
Fellows said he’s in the race because there is no real fiscal conservative in the
race.
“The Democrats won’t put up someone to fight Rehberg,” Fellows said. “It’s too
simplistic to say, ‘I’m going to sit back and not raise any money.’ Any of us can do that.”
Fellows, a graduate of the University of Montana whose passion is rebuilding
Volkswagen busses, is in his fifth congressional campaign. He’s also run for secretary of
state and the Montana Legislature. He has yet to win a statewide race.
While Fellows will admit his role it is often frustrating, it’s not all that terrible
either, he said.
“We’d all like to win the race,” he said. “But eventually you hope to at least get
some of your ideas across and sway public opinion.”
As a member of the Libertarian Party, Fellows is all about expanding civil
liberties and minimizing government. “We allow people to do as they will without
infringing on the rights of others to do what they want to do,” he said.
And when it comes to the big issues in the congressional race, Fellows focuses on
spending – which he says has gone far enough.
“The Republicans have been spending more than they really should,” he said.
“They had a chance to reduce the budget in 2003, but instead they chose to raise three
different taxes,” he said. “We can’t keep spending like drunken sailors.”
Instead, Fellows said, Americans should be asking what they can do to reduce the
budget. They could start by eliminating pork-barrel spending for pet projects in their
districts, he added.
Fellows said that although Rehberg claims he wants to reduce spending, he is
really part of the problem. “We can’t keep electing people who vote against what the
Constitution stands for,” he said.
Fellows himself stands for gun rights and against the Patriot Act; for less
restrictions on alternative medicine and against abortions, for allowing juries to judge the
facts and the law and against raising taxes; for school vouchers and against the federal No
Child Left Behind law. He also wants to see greater emphasis on developing alternative
energy sources, including wind and solar power.
“We have to develop new alternative energies,” says Fellows.
Despite his unlikely chance of winning, Fellows is hopeful. Being a part of the
process is important, he added.
“You still have to get out there. The more you get out there, the more people will
actually see you. Change does come from those who show up.”

For Superintendent of Public Instruction: Donald Eisenmenger

Like most third party candidates, Libertarian Donald Eisenmenger will agree that
he has little change of winning. But there’s always hope.
“It is true that third party candidates don’t win most of the time, but it’s not
unheard of,” said Eisenmenger, a 58-year-old retired psychologist and businessman who
calls Helena home. He points to former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura’s successful
independent campaign to become Minnesota’s governor in 1999.
“Although winning is the desired objective, it’s not the only reason you’re
involved in the race,” he said. “Third parties can have a dramatic effect on the direction
and position of the institutions they are running for.”
In his case, the institution is Montana’s public education system, which
Eisenmenger believes is not nearly as good as it could be.
“It is completely unresponsive to students and parents,” he said.
His wants more localized control of education and more choice for parents,
including tax vouchers for those who don’t want to put their children in public schools.
If elected to lead the Office of Public Instruction, Eisenmenger he would promote
competition and innovation in an education system, which he says “has turned into a
monopoly.”
Government-run schools are “in a straight jacket,” he said, because they’re
severely limited in what they can do if they want to continue to receive funding from the
state.
“When you have no competition, you’re using essentially the same philosophy for
teaching that was used 50 or 100 years ago,” he said.
Unlike his opponents, Democrat Denise Juneau and Republican Elaine Herman,
Eisenmenger opposed increase state funding for public schools.
“We’re paying more than we need to for the education system because it’s overly
bureaucratic,” he said. “We need more opportunity for competition and innovation.”
A former Republican, Eisenmenger said the GOP had long ago abandoned its
principles, leaving him “politically homeless” until he found the Libertarians.
He said he has always favored more individual freedom and lower taxes, which
would allow people to spend more money on themselves.
“We (Libertarians) believe that the government has dramatically overgrown the
intent of our founding fathers,” he said. “We’d like to see a significantly reduced and
more constitutional government.”
“It (government) grows like a cancer, with almost equally beneficial results,” he
said.
Eisenmenger continues to hope change is coming, regardless of whether he wins
or loses.
“It’s not a totally frustrating experience,” he said. “It’s really encouraging to know
there are a lot of people out there that are not happy with how the current system is
working.”
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For Secretary of State: Sieglinde Sharbono

Sieglinde Sharbono, the Constitution Party candidate for secretary of state, didn’t
want to run for office.
“I’ve never had any aspirations to hold public office,” said Sharbono, who hails
from Sidney but now lives in Stevensville. “If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have run.”
As it turns out, she really didn’t have to.
Sharbono said state party leaders scrambled to find a last-minute stand-in when
somebody got the mistaken impression they had to field a candidate in the race to stay on
the ballot in future races. An hour before the filing deadline, Sharbono got the call.
“The opportunity just kind of dropped into my lap,” Sharbono said. “I felt it was
my responsibility to make the most of it.”
Like the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party also wants to reduce the size of
government, but according to its Web site, unlike the officially secular Libertarians,
Constitutionalists also look to “restore the law to its Biblical foundations.”
The party mantra is both strictly conservative: pro-life, pro-gun, anti-abortion,
anti-gay marriage; and strictly isolationist.
But the fight for secretary of state has never been much of an ideological struggle
– in fact it’s never been much of a battle at all. With little publicity, fewer campaign
donations and no debates, the race is a perennial snoozer.
Democratic challenger Linda McCulloch’s biggest gripe with Republican
incumbent Brad Johnson is that he doesn’t show up to enough Board of Land
Commissioners meetings. The only other major point of contention is how well Johnson
has run elections; in 2006, Missoula and Gallatin counties had a few minor Election Day
hiccups, but audits revealed no evidence of voter fraud.
The debate might seem pedestrian but the position does carry some weight. The
secretary of state is responsible for interpreting election laws, maintaining state records
and serving on the Board of Land, which oversees Montana’s 5.2 million acres of public
property.
Sharbono stays away from weighing in on Johnson’s handling of elections,
because she thinks the whole system needs to be turned upside down.
First, she would eliminate all electronic voting devices, which she says make the
election “highly susceptible to fraud.” Once the paper ballots were counted, she’d refuse
to certify any winner the she didn’t think followed the Constitution.
“I am discouraged, saddened, disheartened and angry that people take an oath of
office to follow the Constitution and over and over again we see to the contrary,”
Sharbono said.
Politicians who she thinks have ignored the oath of office include those who
voted for the Patriot Act and the Wall Street “bailout.”
Sharbono’s platform includes opposing “selectively and unfairly applied” military
interventions, as well as “New World Order politics” of forking over tax dollars to send
to people halfway across the world.
“I love our country, I love our Constitution, and I love our people,” Sharbono
said. “Let’s start supporting our own citizens.”
Sharbono said she knew it would be an uphill battle to get her message out, but
she didn’t know the hill would be this steep.
“It’s been much harder than I thought it would be,” Sharbono said. “Folks are
conditioned as only thinking they have two choices.”
She blames the mainstream media for “perpetuating the marginalization” of her
voice. She said as soon as people find out she’s not a Republican or Democrat, they won’t
take her seriously.
“You tend to be immediately debunked,” Sharbono said. “There’s a real stigma
attached to the third party label.”

For Governor: Stan Jones

Like Sharbono, Stan Jones didn’t ask for his nomination. The Libertarian
gubernatorial candidate was coaxed into running by national party Chairman Bill
Redpath. This is his fifth time on the state ticket; he’s lost twice running for the U.S.
Senate and twice running for governor.
Jones expects to have five losses come November.
“I know I’m not going to win,” Jones said. “But I believe in what I’m saying and I
hope I’m bringing people around.”
The Bozeman business consultant faces Democratic incumbent Brian Schweitzer
and Republican challenger Roy Brown. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows
Schweitzer leading with 56 percent to Brown’s 41 percent. (Jones didn’t make the poll.)
In the race to collect campaign cash, Jones hasn’t raised a cent.
Despite drumming up little in the way of support during any of his races, Jones
has a history of creating a stir: He garnered national and international attention in 2002
when CNN.com and BBC News ran stories on his attempt to become America’s first
“blue” senator.
In 1999, Jones began drinking a daily solution of colloidal silver, which gave his
skin a bluish tint. Fittingly, the Bozeman business consultant started his silver treatment
to pre-empt the shortage of antibiotics in the disastrous wake of Y2K; the chaos never
came, but the blue never left.
Not only does Jones look different from his opponents, he sounds different too.
He’s not afraid to push ideas that skirt the mainstream.
He’s lobbied for reverting to a silver and gold currency to stabilize the economy,
fully replacing college professors with computers to cut higher education costs and
slashing the state budget by releasing all non-violent offenders from the Montana State
Prison.
Jones also doesn’t mind flouting political correctness. He calls the environmental
agenda “an emotional scare tactic” and wants to cut all funding for public schools.
“(Public school supporters) are going to yell that (funding) is for the kids,” Jones
said. “It’s not for the kids; it’s to get more union members.”
Jones said he was a Goldwater Republican in the 1960s, but the party abandoned
him when it started moving left.
“There are no more conservatives,” Jones said, “just Libertarians and
Constitutionalists.”
Getting into debates has been a struggle. Jones said the only reason he was
included in three of the first four gubernatorial forums was because Gov. Schweitzer
promised him he wouldn’t show up to any debate unless Jones was included. (The
Billings Gazette and Montana State University-Billings, sponsors of the latest debate on
Oct. 7, didn’t invite him.)
Jones said he wasn’t surprised the Gazette left him out and he thinks he knows
why.
“The press has said my views are extreme,” Jones said. “When I get one minute to
answer a question in a debate, my ideas come across as extreme. But if you just give me a
chance to explain, it’s a better system.”
He says America is straying from its foundations as a constitutional republic and
turning into a “socialist democracy.” Despite his lack of tangible progress in his fifth
political go-round, he thinks his efforts in taking on big government will pay off.
“Eventually people will come around to my position,” Jones said.
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