(By Richard Winger, originally posted at Ballot Access News.)
On November 2, 2010, Rex Bell, Libertarian nominee for Indiana State House, district 54, polled 20.78% of the vote in a race with both a Democrat and a Republican. That is the first time in at least 85 years that a minor party candidate for the Indiana legislature has polled over 20% of the vote in a race with both major parties.
The 54th district is in east central Indiana, and includes Henry and Wayne Counties, and a small part of Randolph County. Bell lives in Wayne County, where he placed ahead of the Democratic nominee. Bell’s wife, Susan Bell, has been elected as a Libertarian to local partisan office as a Judge, and the Libertarian Party has two other office-holders in that county who were elected in odd-year partisan elections.
Bell has run for this seat three times. The incumbent Republican has been in that seat since 1996. Bell received 14.31% in 2006, running against both a Democrat and a Republican. In 2008, the Democrats didn’t run anyone, and Bell polled 33.49% and carried eight of the 59 precincts in the district. In 2010, Bell rang the doorbells of a majority of voters in the district, and ran radio and newspaper ads. Here is his 2010 web page.
No minor party or independent candidate has been elected to the Indiana legislature since 1914, when two Progressive Party nominees were elected. Indiana has a straight-ticket device, which injures candidates who are running outside the two major parties.