BOSTON - Evan Falchuk placed a distant third in Tuesday’s race for governor but still chalked up a victory — official recognition of his United Independence Party.

State election law requires an independent party to get at least 3 percent of the vote in a statewide race to be formally recognized and secure a spot on the next ballot.

Falchuk got 71,098 votes, or about 3.3 percent, in the race won by Republican Charlie Baker. Democrat Martha Coakley placed second.

The other two independent candidates — Jeff McCormick and Scott Lively — each received less than 1 percent of Tuesday's vote.

Falchuk spent more than $1.4 million of his own money on the race, according to filings with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. He couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

A Newton attorney, Falchuk created the independent party last year in response to what he called a "disconnect" between average voters and the state's two party system.

The party, which he has described as "socially progressive," has a platform for tackling a range of problems from rising healthcare costs to the lack of affordable housing. It's not clear how many members it has in its ranks.

To maintain its status, Falchuk's newly recognized party needs at least 1 percent of state voters - roughly 43,000 voters - to register as members before the next statewide election in 2016. Or it can put up a candidate who gets 3 percent of the vote in the presidential election.

If those things don't happen, the party could be stripped of its status.

Ahead of Tuesday’s election, Secretary of State William Galvin pointed out that independent parties have come and gone.

"There are only two legal parties in Massachusetts – Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “The rest of them are not a party. They’re independents striving to become a party."

An example of the seesaw existence of independent parties is the Green-Rainbow Party, which regained recognition as a political party Tuesday. Three of its candidates - running for secretary of state, auditor and treasurer - received 4 percent of the vote.

The Pirate Party is another example. It didn’t run a statewide candidate Tuesday and will be stripped of its recognition, Galvin said.

More than 52 percent of the state’s 4.2 million voters are “unenrolled” independents, who aren't registered as members of a party.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse. He can be reached at cwade@cnhi.com Follow him on Twitter: @cmwade1969

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