Independent candidates figure to play a major role in at least six states next year, threatening Democrats in an election where they already must defend 21 of their 28 governorships. In New Jersey, for example, independent Chris Daggett is trailing well behind Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican Tom Kean, but he’s siphoning off 15% of the Democratic vote, to only 7% of the Republican one, Politico notes.
Independent bids have already been announced in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well, and are expected in Minnesota, Maine, and Vermont. “It seems that there is some disaffection among people who would normally think of themselves as Democrats,” says one former Democrat. But a party spokesman noted that Daggett and Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee are ex-Republicans. “These GOP candidates are disguising themselves as independents because the Republican brand is still so toxic.”