Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sharon Renier To Run As Write-In

There have been people talking about this in the comments, and now I'm finally getting around to it. I assure you, I didn't delay for any particular reason.

Actually, that's not true. I delayed because I wanted to focus on stories that actually mattered.

From the Battle Creek Enquirer:

After a primary loss to Democrat Mark Schauer, Sharon Renier is making a comeback in the general election, this time as an independent write-in candidate.

"I love the way that sounds," she said. "I am independent, and the two-party system is broken."

Renier joins the candidate field populated by Schauer, D-Bedford Township, incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, Green candidate Lynn Meadows of Chelsea and Charlotte Libertarian Ken Proctor.

"If you look at the numbers, people were disenfranchised in the primary," she said. "The state legislature decides election laws, and things being what they are, a lot of voters couldn't really voice their preference because they had to vote either Republican or Democrat."

Still, Renier insists she's running not as a spoiler but as a viable candidate for Congress.

"I am absolutely running to win," she said. "We've got a really good shot at this."


First, let me say that I honestly, truly do like Sharon Renier. I supported her in 2006, because I absolutely do believe that she would have been a better representative than Tim Walberg. She ran as a Democrat, espoused some good, legitimately Democratic ideas, and would have done less harm for the district than Tim Walberg and his rigid ideology.

That said, Sharon Renier was definitely not a traditional Democrat-- she was her own person, and she brought some unique ideas to the table. But she was passionate, and I like that a lot.

But she wasn't my first choice in the 2006 primary, and, of course, she wasn't my choice in 2008. Some of her ideas do stray from the mainstream. There are some issues where I don't think she's particularly well-versed.

And some of what she says really bothers me. It's one thing to be a sore loser, but she and some of her supporters equate Tim Walberg with Mark Schauer. That's just silly. On any of the issues-- including issues that matter to her-- Mark Schauer will be lightyears ahead of Tim Walberg. Will Schauer and Renier always agree? No. Schauer and I don't always agree either. That's just not the way politics works. Some people call that picking the "lesser of two evils." I absolutely and wholeheartedly disagree.

And then, you have to consider why Sharon Renier didn't win in her first two attempts. It wasn't because of personality-- there are some very colorful characters in Congress. It was because of campaigning. The 2006 race was better than 2004, but neither was run as a viable campaign. She didn't pass a certain threshold for the party to support her in force, and she didn't pass a certain threshold for voters to take her seriously. Many of her votes really were just anti-Walberg votes.

So, where does this leave us? She's running as an independent and as a write-in. Joe Schwarz ran as a write-in, too, and got 1.07 percent of the vote. In an extremely close race, that could be all it takes to spoil it for Schauer. But there are some differences, too. Joe Schwarz went into the election as an incumbent (albeit a lame-duck), with high name recognition, and an energized base of angry supporters.

Sharon Renier, on the other hand, has very low name recognition-- even after two times on the ballot, 80 percent of the district didn't know who she was in July of 2007. And, where Schwarz filed as a write-in the day before the election, making his move a fresh memory for his supporters, Renier will have to work hard to remind her loyalists that she's trying to run. Since she didn't really have any money to speak of before the election, that'll be hard.

One plus for her is that she won't have to change her campaign website... She never actually acknowledged her loss in the primary, so it's looked as if she was still running all along!

I might be wrong, but I don't think this is a big factor in the race. She's grabbing attention one more time in September, and might get a couple of articles one more time in October, but that's it. Unless she can demonstrate a credible reason for why she should win under the least likely of circumstances, I don't see this mattering all that much.

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