Third-party candidates say they provide important choice at election time
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Third-party candidates say they provide important choice at election time

Date: October 4, 2006
By: Rachel Higginbotham
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Terry Bunker is 46, in a wheelchair, and running for state auditor this November. But he's not a Democrat or Republican. He said he never has been. He said he's been Progressive Party member his whole life, and he said he believes this is what makes him the right choice for Missouri voters.

Charles Baum is the Libertarian Party candidate for state auditor, although his choice in political party came later in life.

"Initially I was a Democrat when I thought they were for the working person. Then I found out that wasn't really true," Baum said. "Then I was a Republican when I found out they were for less government. Well, obviously [President] Bush has shown that not to be the case. So the Libertarians offer me the only option."

For some candidates seeking election, the obvious and easiest choice may be to run with a major party. For both Bunker and Baum, disillusionment with the current two-party system is what inspired them to run.

"I'm not suggesting that the current auditor is doing anything wrong," said Bunker. "But from talking to other people, there's been a lack of objectiveness in government."

"I think we need more choices," said Baum. "I think that the Democrats and Republicans have just become too much the same. They're all a part of the same big club. They all eat out of the same trough."

Bunker is currently an accountant with State Street Financial in Kansas City. He lost his left arm and right leg when he was electrocuted while working as an electrician in 1983. And while he said that gathering signatures and funds is a physical challenge for him, he's surprised by the amount of support he's been given.

"I sense that people are looking for a change. They're not happy with the status quo," Bunker said. "I think people are really starting to consider that maybe we need a fresh start."

Baum, the Libertarian, has taken more of a laissez-faire approach to campaigning. He said he's not aggressively or actively raising funds or getting his name out.

"If I [raise] more that $500, I got to fill out a bunch of forms and I'm not interested in getting that involved in it," he said. "I'm relying on intelligent, informed voters rather than people that respond to 15-second advertisements or yard signs."

Baum is a financial planner with Renaissance Financial in St. Louis. He's also a former junior-high math teacher.

"I'm not sure that my background as a teacher can help me with this job," Baum said. "Unless it's to educate voters to alternatives."