Third parties win key victory in Tennessee

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September 30, 2010

By Tyler Millhouse

Nashville, Tennessee: Third parties in Tennessee have won a significant victory in their fight for increased ballot access and name recognition. Until now, third party candidates were forced to run as independents on the state ballot. To be listed in gubernatorial races, minor parties were required collect 50,000 signatures or win 5% of the vote.[1]

However, U.S. District Judge William J Haynes Jr. struck down the longstanding statutes last Monday. Haynes contends that the laws violated the rights of voters and the right of parties to freely associate. State attorneys argued that these laws prevent minor parties from receiving preferential treatment. Attorney General Robert Cooper is considering an appeal. The ruling will not take effect until next year.[1]

Ballotpedia has found that 14 candidates in the state house and 3 candidates in the state senate are running as independents. It is unclear which of these candidates would have run under a third party. However, Tennessee's 2010 ballot already shows a lack of competition. In the Tennessee House of Representatives, 34 incumbents (37%) faced no primary or general election challenge. Of these incumbents, 12 are Democrats and 22 are Republicans. In the state senate, 6 incumbents (40%) faced no primary or general election challenge. Of these incumbents 2 are Democrats and 4 are Republicans.

Heading into the November 2 election, Republicans hold a majority in both the house and senate.


Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 26
     Republican Party 73
Total 99


Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 5
     Republican Party 28
Total 33

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