BOSTON (AP) — The two independent candidates running for Massachusetts governor have little name recognition but could still play a critical role in next year’s election.
While the candidates and their supporters say they are running to win, they could also act as political spoilers — peeling away key votes from either the Democratic or Republican nominee.
Democrats are keeping an eye on Evan Falchuk, a 44-year-old Newton resident running for governor under the self-styled United Independent Party label.
Falchuk, a lawyer and former head of Best Doctors Inc., a Boston-based global health company, describes himself as “pragmatically progressive and fiscally sensible.” He’s staked out liberal positions, including breaking up what he calls the “monopolistic practices” of large insurers and big hospitals as a way to lower health care costs.
He’s also plowed about $300,000 of his own money into his campaign.
Another well-heeled candidate could pose problems for Republicans.
Jeffrey McCormick, the founder of the venture capital investment firm Saturn Partners, has opened a campaign account with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance and is expected to formally enter the race early next year.
The 52-year-old McCormick hasn’t been talking to reporters, but the Boston resident has already pumped $100,000 of his own money into his campaign account.
One of McCormick’s early backers is former state Treasurer Joe Malone, a longtime Republican who just recently announced he’s enrolling as an independent.
Thomas Whalen, a political historian and author at Boston University, said the hurdles to victory are high for independent candidates in Massachusetts. Even without the political infrastructure of an established party behind them, they can still use the platform of a gubernatorial campaign to drive home a political viewpoint or idea.
And even if they only pick up a tiny slice of the electorate, that can spell victory or defeat for either of the top party candidates in a tight election, he added.