Tomorrow the Secretary of State's doors open for third party and independent candidate filing. In general, Iowa has not too easy but not too hard standards for that, with similar numbers of signatures. Below, some names to watch for the next three weeks.
One small point of contention: Democrats and Republicans get to file much, much earlier, in February and March, but the third parties can only file in this July/August window. It'd be a small but fair thing to give them a shot at the earlier filing window, too.
Governor is the important race for third parties. If they can score 2% or more, they earn full party status, with a primary and everything, for the next two years when they have to get 2% again for president.
That standard is relatively hard compared to other states, but in 2008 Iowa established a compromise "political organization" status where you can register with a qualifying third party. Third parties don't have primaries but still have to petition to get on the ballot. Iowa's two qualified third parties, the Greens and Libertarians, seemed OK with that, The goal was less about ballot access and more about letting people register with them.
Still, full party status would be a bragging point. Libertarians "nominated" Lee Heib for governor and running mate Ryan Ketelson at a party convention. "Nominated" really is more of an endorsement, with no official legal meaning till the papers get turned in.
Libertarians are also running 2010 nominee Jake Porter again for Secretary of State and Keith Laube for state treasurer. Doug Butzier is running for US Senate. And it looks like they have candidates in three congressional districts: Gary Sicard in the 1st, Ed Wright in the 3rd and Forest Johnson in the 4th.
The Greens, in contrast, are quiet, with no evidence of any candidates anywhere. They only ran for president in 2012, and had one legislative candidate in 2010.
The Socialist Workers aren't good at getting votes, but are aggressive at selling newspapers and getting nomination signatures. Their perennial candidate, David Rosenfeld, looks like he's running for governor this year.
As for pure independents, there's some odd names seeking the US Senate. Perhaps most interesting is Ruth Smith, who has run against Joni Ernst before: in the 2011 special election where Ernst replaced Kim Reynolds in the State Senate. Smith had been Reynold's 2008 opponent as well. Before that she lost for county supervisor twice. Those runs were as a Democrat, but in 2012 she became an independent to challenge Joel Fry for the state house.
So, what's the deal? Her website is loaded with cartoons about campaign finance reform, and includes LOTS OF UPPER CASE AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!1! My bet is: she got triaged out in her legislative races because she was in tough to un-winnable seats and couldn't raise money, and blamed the Democratic Party.
The other Some Dudes who may file include Jay Williams, who has a similar platform as Smith but at least uses bold instead of upper case, and Bob Quast, who likes term limits and guns.
Bleeding Heartland reports that Bryan Jack Holder, who announced in the 3rd CD Republican primary but failed to make the ballot, will try a tea partyish independent campaign.
And you never can tell what Jonathan Narcisse will do...