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Don’t Forget the Third Party Candidates!

11:01 AM PST on November 6, 2012

In recent posts, we've explored the impact President Obama has had on transportation and land-use policy, and we've tried to square Candidate Mitt Romney's oil-soaked rhetoric with Governor Mitt Romney's smart growth record.

We don't want anyone protesting outside our offices, so our coverage of the presidential election must include the third party candidates.

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Green Party nominee Jill Stein takes her transportation agenda from the party platform -- which is everything a sustainability promoter would love. Cheap or free mass transit, funded by "major public investment." An end to automobile and fossil fuel subsidies. A moratorium on highway widening, using the money saved for mass transit and facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists. Free community bike fleets. High-speed rail. No free parking in non-residential areas well served by mass transit, preferential parking rates for HOVs. Higher gas taxes, with some compensation for low income drivers. Freight transport by rail.

The Green transportation platform is by far the most complete of the four minor parties on the ballot in the race for president.

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Libertarian Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, doesn't have anything to say about transportation at all. And his energy platform is simple: "The government should simply stay out of the business of trying to promote or 'manage' energy development. The marketplace will meet our energy needs." That means no subsidies for fossil fuels. One would imagine he's not a big proponent of subsidies for transit, either -- though other libertarians, notably Ron Paul, have taken a more complex view.

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Former U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, a former Democrat and Republican who is now running with the Constitution Party, is similarly silent on transportation and infrastructure. His energy platform centers around independence from foreign fossil fuels -- not from all fossil fuels. It reads more like a national security policy than an energy policy. Drilling in Alaska and off shore? Let's do it. The Constitution Party would abolish the Department of Energy.

For what it's worth, during the re-election campaign that he eventually lost, one of the most damaging events for Goode was when supporters showed up to a July Fourth rally in a Hummer. It blew up when Jon Stewart lampooned the event on the Daily Show, saying Goode was too cozy with big oil and too disconnected from his constituents.

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On the ballot in 15 states is Rocky Anderson, whose leadership of Salt Lake City has led many to dub him one of the greenest mayors in America. He committed the city to the emissions reduction goals set out in the Kyoto Protocol, which the city surpassed seven years ahead of schedule. His sustainability program improved the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the city, and he passionately supported brownfield development.

In an address to the Downtown Business Association in 2000, Anderson opposed a 1.1 milion square foot "sprawl mall" and asked, "Will we fall into the trap of further suburbanization, look-alike chain-store developments (with all profits and support expenditures flowing out of state), greater sprawl, traffic congestion, crowding and air pollution? Or will we plan wisely and for the future, with support for those who would help revitalize our downtown and west side, with friendlier, more livable communities?"

You don't have to be Nate Silver to know that none of these fine men and women are going the win the presidency today, but polling that only asks about the two top candidates can obscure the role they might play. A recent CNN poll included three of these candidates -- excluding Anderson, sadly -- and found that Libertarian Gary Johnson commanded 4 percent of the vote and Green Jill Stein got 2 percent. The Constitution Party's Virgil Goode finished with less than half of one percent -- but could still play spoiler in a close race in his home state of Virginia.

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