Feb 222007
Authors: Vimal Patel

A third-party candidate who snagged 11 percent of the vote in the district’s Congressional election said Thursday he plans to run again in 2008 – this time on one of the major party tickets.

“Which one, I’m not going to say yet,” said Eric Eidsness, the Reform Party candidate who found himself in the middle of slugfest between Democrat Angie Paccione and Republican Marilyn Musgrave.

The businessman who swooped in late and was propelled with the endorsement of five of the seven newspapers in the district told a group of about 20 Front Range Community College students his intentions Thursday morning.

John Straayer, a political science professor at CSU, said Eidsness could be a formidable candidate if he ran for the Congressional seat in 2008.

“His challenge will be to get the nomination,” Straayer said. “If he gets the nomination, he’ll do well.”

On Thursday morning, Eidsness spoke to two sociology classes and said his discontent over the Iraq War spurred him to consider running for Congress in the first place.

“I cannot sit on my backside and sip coffee at Starbucks and read the next installment of Harry Potter while Americans are dying in another country” in a war that shouldn’t have happened, he said. “People want a choice.”

His talk focused on what he said were the abuses of the Bush presidency – undermining the War Powers Act, suspending the right of habeas corpus for defendants in suspected terrorism cases, and giving a free ride to the rich.

“The Republican Party is going to have to take another drubbing before they get it,” he said. “The Republican Party has been taken over by the religious right. There’s no question about it.”

President Reagan appointed Eidsness to an administrative position in the Environmental Protection Agency. But he said he eventually became disillusioned with the mean-spiritedness of the party, along with its abandonment of its core principles.

Evan Mitchell, an FRCC student, said he didn’t vote in the November Congressional election – or in any election, ever.

But he said Eidsness is someone who he could definitely see himself voting for.

“He stands up for what he believes in,” he said. “We need more people like that in politics.”

An audience member lamented the lack of college student turnout in the election process. Eidsness shrugged it off, saying that’s how it has always been.

“Dealing with a hangover or going to the polls is not a choice,” he quipped.

In November’s election, incumbent Musgrave eked a victory over Paccione. Some Democrats have claimed Eidsness acted as a “spoiler” and took votes away from Paccione. Straayer said he doesn’t believe that’s necessarily the case.

Bill Chaloupka, chair of the CSU political science department, said one reason Eidsness did so well for a third-party candidate in November is because of the discontent voters felt over Paccione and Musgrave.

“That was when the major party candidates were slinging negative ads at each other as hard as they could,” he said. “But that makes a certain number of voters say “the heck with them, there’s got to be someone else.'”

Managing Editor Vimal Patel can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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