Jeremy Peruski (above) is an independent candidate in Michigan’s 10th Congressional District.

This is an excerpt from a column I wrote for Dome Magazine.

By Chad Selweski

Independent candidates are rare in Michigan for a good reason – they rarely come close to winning election campaigns.  

Those who shun the Democratic and Republican parties, the contenders known in Michigan as No Party Affiliation (NPA) candidates, make their appeal to independent voters and ticket-splitters who adopt a middle ground when completing their ballot. It’s a tough row to hoe but this year a crop of independents nationwide, many united in their cause, have waged high-profile campaigns for Congress and state offices. 

In Michigan, a spirited campaign is being run by independent candidate Jeremy Peruski of Sanilac County in the 10th Congressional District, which comprises the Thumb Area and a portion of Macomb County. 

“There’s no question this is a movement,” he said. “The parties are moving to the extremes and voters are saying, ‘My party is moving away from me.’ As independents, we represent the people in the middle.”

Peruski stands as an obvious underdog against the freshman incumbent, Republican Rep. Paul Mitchell, but he has spent far more than the Democrat in the House race, Kim Bizon of St. Clair County, and has engaged in grassroots campaigning such as participating in local parades with his volunteers and handing out lawn signs and T-shirts.  The first-time candidate aggressively campaigns on Facebook with video ads. 

‘Third option’ for voters

Like his fellow independents running across the country, Peruski urges voters to reject party labels and choose a “third option,” a candidate determined to engage in compromise and “common sense” solutions if elected to office. They denounce the partisan bickering and gridlock in Washington and in state capitals. 

Several national groups are promoting independent candidates, such as Unite America, the Independent Voters Network and the Serving America Movement. Unite America stands as the most galvanizing group, offering a support network for novice candidates. Those affiliated with the organization sign a manifesto of no party allegiance, the “Declaration of Independents,” and they sport the hashtag #CountryNotParty.

This national drive among independent candidates offers its strongest presence in several states spread from coast to coast: Maine, Kansas, Colorado and Alaska. The overall lineup of approximately 200 independents includes six candidates for governor and 42 House candidates. In Michigan, only four independents are on the ballot: Peruski, Todd Schleiger for governor (running on the U.S. Taxpayers Party ticket), Christopher Graveline for attorney general, and Cooper Nye for House in the 11th District (portions of Oakland and Wayne counties). 

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