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Independence Party of Minnesota

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The Independence Party of Minnesota (often abbreviated IP or IPM), formerly the Reform Party of Minnesota, is the third largest political party in Minnesota, behind the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) and Republican Party. It is the political party of former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura (19992003), and endorsed former US Representative Tim Penny as a candidate for the 2002 gubernatorial election. The party has fielded candidates for most statewide races and is considered a major party by the state, in addition to the DFL, Republican, and Green parties.

The party was formed in 1992 by Minnesota supporters of Ross Perot, and fielded Dean Barkley that year as a candidate for a seat in the US House of Representatives. Other Perot supporters worked as part of United We Stand America, and some eventually found their way to the Independence Party after the elections. Over the following years, the party began to field candidates in other state races. In 1995 the IPM affiliated with the national Reform Party and renamed itself the Reform Party of Minnesota. The state party carried that name until it disaffiliated from the national party in 2000 due to factional dissent and the increasing influence of Pat Buchanan. The party immediately changed its name back to Independence Party. Buchanan, his most influential opponents having left the party, went on to become the Reform Party's candidate for president.

Its principles are Integrity, Dignity, Responsibility, Service and Community. In some ways it is similar to the Libertarian Party, but recognizes a larger role for government. Theoretically, the party is meant to be centrist, though the group might be somewhat more accurately described as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” a phrase Ventura often used. It could be said that the party is moderate-libertarian, if such a term exits.

On 2004's Super Tuesday, March 2, the party held caucuses around the state along with Minnesota's other three parties. Since the organization had no national party affiliation, it merely ran a straw poll to gauge the opinions of members with regard to the available presidential candidates in the 2004 election. For the poll, the group used instant-runoff voting, a voting method that has been gaining interest in the state. Additionally, the party had several fairly progressive agenda items to vote on. For a bit of levity, there was also a vote on the mascot to use for the party. Three top possibilities were the bison, hawk, and white buffalo. (According to the IP's website, "The Independence Party...will decide on a party mascot at its convention this year. These results serve to guide to that choice, rather than decide the matter." [1] (http://www.mnip.org/caucusresults.htm)) Technology was also involved in the IPM's caucusing, as it used the Internet to conduct a two-day online “virtual caucus” for people who were unable to attend the evening of Super Tuesday.

On March 5, 2004, the party announced that the presidential winner was John Edwards, ironically a candidate who had privately circulated his decision to withdraw shortly before IP members voted. The Super Tuesday ballot was probably the first state-wide experiment in instant-runoff voting. The Bison won the mascot vote, out-polling the nearest competitors by a 19% margin.

In May, 2005, Peter Hutchinson, who was State Finance Commissioner in the Ventura administration, announced that he was planning to seek the Independence Party's nomination for governor in the 2006 election.[2] (http://www.politics1.com)

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