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IP Chairman Concedes Loss Of Major-Party Status

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota's Independence Party, which complicated races for Republicans and Democrats for years, is a major party no more.

IP Chairman Mark Jenkins conceded Wednesday that his party will drop to minor-party status later this year when the midterm election results become official. The reduction means the loss of automatic ballot access and a sharp reduction in campaign subsidies that made past IP candidates more credible, even as longshots.

"There's no change in the attitude of our candidates and supporters, and it doesn't change our energy," Jenkins said. "We're going to fight for fair and open elections and for reasonable governance in our state and in our nation."

Jenkins vowed the IP would field legislative candidates in 2016 and statewide in 2018. But he acknowledged that success in elections and in regaining the major-party designation will be harder.

"It's going to be tougher for us to maintain the attention of the media," Jenkins said.

No statewide IP candidate got 5 percent or better in Tuesday's election, the second straight election the party failed to hit the benchmark required to keep its status. Secretary of State hopeful Bob Helland received 4.9 percent in unofficial returns. Governor candidate Hannah Nicollet got less than 3 percent and was hampered by her early failure to raise enough money to unlock campaign subsidies. As Nicollet polled poorly, she was left out of several debates.

The results were a contrast to past years. In 2006 and 2010, IP governor candidates Peter Hutchinson and Tom Horner performed far better and turned those races into true three-way affairs. In 1998, Jesse Ventura won the governorship for the Reform Party, later renamed the IP.

"For 20 years the media has been writing our obituary," Jenkins said. "We took a bit hit this cycle, but we're not going away. This election showed that 8 to 10 percent of voters still aren't comfortable with Republicans or Democrats in office."

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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