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Can Wyatt Chesney Rebuild the Reform Party?

From time to time we publish articles and interviews contributed by readers of this blog. Today we have an interview conducted by Chris Rouhier with Wyatt Chesney, an accountant who is seeking the Reform Party’s 2008 presidential nomination.

Wyatt Chesney is a rarity in politics these days, a Reform party member.

A party left for dead and split apart into several groups, the remnants of the one powerful third party is barely hanging on. Chesney looks to change that. As a candidate for the RP’s 2008 nomination for President, he seeks to unite the factions behind a more centrist candidate (as opposed to Buchanan in 2000 and Nader in 2004), and return the party to a style of politics more similar to the party which Ross Perot envisioned when it was founded.

Chris Rouhier: What is your background, both in general and in politics?

Chesney: Well, I am an average man. I grew up with an average family and have experienced both the greats and not-so greats of life. I currently work as a family accountant in my home city of Phoenix, Arizona. Politically, I have been an activist for many different causes that I believe in including securing our borders and peace with our fellow nations. I will be honest with you, I have no political experience…thus I have not been corrupted by a partisan system that gets little done in terms of helping Americans. As Kinky Friedman has said throughout his campaign for governor of Texas this year, “Politics is the one job in which you get worse with more experience.”


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Chris Rouhier: What inspired you to enter the 2008 Presidential race?

Chesney: In recent years, I have seen America really head down the tubes. The tax burden is imbalanced, illegal immigration is out of control, and government spending has increased by over 59% since 2001. While major party candidates are busy feuding with each other and dividing us with social issues…these problems continue to worsen. Seeing as how the major parties are paying no mind to such devastating issues, I feel obligated as a citizen to stand up for America and right the wrongs of our federal government.

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Chris Rouhier: Obviously, you have chosen to enter the race very early. What is behind this decision, and how can it benefit your campaign?

Chesney: I don’t think that there is ever a bad time to start working for the future. If we are to make an effective impact, than we need to start early and build a foundation for this campaign to stand on. Also, I am obviously a lesser known person among voters. I think that giving people this extra time to get to know me will be largely beneficial down the road.

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Chris Rouhier: You are, according to sources, trying to return the party to its Ross Perot roots. How do you propose to do this?

Chesney: I intend to do this by giving the people of the Reform Party a candidate that holds a great deal of respect for the founding principles and intends to run a campaign based off of them. Since the year 2000, extremism and division have plagued our once great party. I intend to give people a Ross Perot like platform that will eventually shape the party for the future.

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Chris Rouhier: With factions of the Reform Party feuding, and other Centrist groups struggling for supremacy, how can your candidacy unite these groups?

Chesney: By giving them a centrist candidate to support. To be honest, I don’t blame them for feuding. Pat Buchanan one year and Ralph Nader the next leaves much to be desired among the centrist community. I think that centrist parties will rally around my campaign because for the first time since Ross Perot himself, they will have a centrist candidate to put their faith in.

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Chris Rouhier: Have you considered a vice presidential candidate? What type of person will you consider for your VP candidate?

Chesney: I am doing my best to keep the Vice-Presidential dance floor open. I think it’s a little soon to center in and focus on one person to help me lead the charge if nominated. However, I ensure you and everyone else that my running-mate will be a person who shares our common goal of advancing centrism in America and reinstalling it into the Reform Party.

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Chris Rouhier: Why President? Why not start your political career by running for a smaller office?

Chesney: I have chosen President for two reasons mainly. One, the Reform Party needs help now and nothing could get us up and going better than a decent showing in a presidential election. Secondly, I think of America and the Reform Party in the same context. America needs help now as well. By giving people a viable alternative for president; we will have made the first great step toward repairing our broken government.

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Chris Rouhier: Ballot access will obviously be a daunting task. How will you approach this obstacle?

Chesney: I intend to approach it the same way that I have approached the daunting task of running for president as an independent, through grassroots organization. When you run these kinds of campaigns you have to start small and start with your base. That will be the key to getting nominated to the Reform Party in 2008, and the key to the things that follow afterward, including ballot access.

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Chris Rouhier: There are other centrist candidates in the race thus far, and others are considering entering. Mark Warner, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain come to mind. Why should voters consider you, a third party candidate, when there are viable options in the major parties? What type of message will voting Reform in 2008 send?

Chesney: The main reason I would encourage a vote for me over said centrists is the fact that they are politicians, not problem solvers. They can point our problems, but can’t offer solutions, which is pretty much the basis of my campaign. The Reform Party and myself are both working to give people things to look forward to, not things to look down at. I would say that would be the best summary of our 2008 message.

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Chris Rouhier: What progress has your campaign made so far?

Chesney: I would say we are making a lot of progress. Yesterday, I spoke at a club owned by a friend of mine and spread my word and took donations. We raised over $1500 which I think is quite significant for a candidate that few have heard of, yet.

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Chris Rouhier: For those that are interested in the campaign, where can they visit your website, and contact the campaign?

Chesney: They can visit my website at www.chesney2008.tz4.com , email me at [email protected] , or they can call my campaign manager in Dallas at 214-995-3139. That is a personal phone of his, so please make sure you state that you are calling about the campaign.

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Chris Rouhier: Do you have any closing thoughts?

Chesney: America is a troubled nation with a lot of potential. As Bill Clinton once said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.” I believe in America, and I believe that if we work together the progress we make will be infinite.

Thank you for the time.

6 Responses to “Can Wyatt Chesney Rebuild the Reform Party?”

  1. Vincent Bonham-Carter Says:

    The Reform Party was a very powerful third party. I’m currently helping to setup the MA chapter. I hope we’ll see it rise to national stature once again.

  2. Citizens For A Better Veterans Home Says:

    More viable in 2008: Donald Trump and Lou Dobbs?

    However it is VERY interesting to see that in the area of reasonable, reliable ‘self help’ for the reform movement, that a 21st Century leadership cadre has sprung fully grown from the cactus and sage brush of the Colorado River Valley, including Sean O’Hara successor, Yuma’s Rodney Martin.

    Ethics has much to do with the ‘Circular Firing Squad’ mentality and self inflicted wounds of the Perotist Reform Party USA. My sweet heart and I are currently hunting down both the current (John Blare) and former (Valli Sharpe Geisler) California state chairs for court appearances on debts owed.

    Some say that in the 21st Century the Reform movement needs to garner Teddy Roosevelt (and his Teddy Bear and Bull Moose) on the centennial of his Nobel Peace Prize. Others think a more fitting mascot would be a teenager with the family car keys in one hand and a fifth of ‘something’ in the other.

    Other avenues of centrist sanity? The Jesse Ventura tilting American Reform Party has an American Bison (Buffalo) for animal icon instead of the ubiquitous Eagle/ Eagle Head (“standing out by blending in????”) And they do not have a half million dollar FEC debt! Perot has all but one foot in the grave—-at least Ventura is teaching Political Science. (Some little East Coast academy called “Harvard”, I believe!) And all those MILLIONS of Natural Law registrations rotting in state after state.

    Why kill brain cells by even hanging around the reform movement? Because as unified as the extremists on the left and or the right are in the short run, lasting, long term political revolution/ evolution comes from the marathon of the messy middle, the ‘Radical Center’ if you will.

    Sandy Ego County, Collie Fornia, 2006, from a ‘reform’ group formed at Veterans Home of California - Barstow (the worst care campus for former military on our sad planet) in May, 1998.

  3. Citizens For A Better Veterans Home Says:

    Three’s a Crowd

    Ross Perot & the Dynamic of Third Parties

    A new book by Ronald Rapoport and Walter Stone

    * Book Cover

    Democrats see Perot voters as key to success »
    About the Book
    January 15th, 2006

    Three’s a Crowd begins with the simple insight that third parties are creatures of the American two-party system, and derive their support from the failures of the Democratic and Republican parties.

    While third parties flash briefly in the gaps left by those failures, they nevertheless follow a familiar pattern: a sensation in one election, a disappointment in the next. Rapoport and Stone conclude that this steep arc results from one or both major parties successfully absorbing the third party’s constituency. In the first election, the third party raises new issues and defines new constituencies; in the second, the major parties move in on the new territory. But in appropriating the third party’s constituents, the major parties open themselves up to change. This is what the authors call the “dynamic of third parties.”

    The Perot campaign exemplified this effect in 1992 and 1996. Political observers of contemporary electoral politics missed the significance of Perot’s independent campaign for the presidency in 1992. Rapoport and Stone, who had unfettered-and unparalleled-access to the Perot political machine, show how his run perfectly embodies the third-party dynamic. Yet until now no one has considered the aftermath of the Perot movement through that lens.

    For anyone who seeks to understand the workings of our stubbornly two-party structure, this eagerly awaited and definitive analysis will shed new light on the role of third parties in the American political system.

    This entry was posted on Sunday, January 15th, 2006 at 9:50 pm and is filed under About the Book.
    2 Responses to “About the Book”

    1. George Phillies Says:
    February 4th, 2006 at 10:23 am

    I have not read your book yet, and shall comment on your introduction here.

    I seems to me that there are two sorts of third party. There are third parties that arise from a personality, such as the George Wallace, John Anderson, and Ross Perot parties. These fit the model you describe for Perot. They appear, last a cycle or two, and vanish. Anderson’s vanished faster than Perot’s.

    Then there are third parties that hang on for much longer periods. Of the currently active parties, I would note the Libertarian and Green parties, though there are also several smaller socialist parties and the USTaxpayers/Constitution parties.

    Finally, there are ghosts of earlier parties. Groups rationally continuous with the Wallace Party still exist. The Reform Party appears to be there in some places, though the people running it seem to bear no semblance to the Perot people in their stands.
    2. Ron Says:
    February 6th, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Your point is a crucial one in our book. Our distinction is not one between third parties of personality and other parties, but rather between thrid parties that attract a lot of support (Perot and Wallace more recently but also the Populists, who were not a party of personality) and the others.

    Those that attract a great deal of support, particularly when they have identified issues and problems ignored by the major parties, elicit a response from a major party which tries to coopt the thrid party’s large number of supporters. This is what happened in 1994 with the Republican’s successful attempt to coopt Perot issues and his supporters through the Contract with America. The Contract empahsized Perot issues (especially reform) and ignored more traditional Republican issues like abortion. This process is a major focus of our book.

    On the other hand, parties that have little support, even when they are parties of personality (like Nader in 2000) do not entice either major party to make a bid for their supporters. As a result, they often continue (albeit at a low evel of support).
    3. Citizens For A Better Veterans Home Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 28th, 2006 at 7:10 am

    No running sitting VP or Prez in 2008! Bloomberg, Dobbs, or Trump could take it all…..

  4. Mike Grimes Says:

    I think the ideas of the reform party can easily be revived, but put reform next to your name regardless of who you are and theres no hope. Get a new name put it next to any of the above mentioned candidates and something real might happen.

  5. jack kretzer Says:

    there is a reform party, alive and growing. in arizona. in yuma couty there is ballot access.m the yuma county reform party will field candidates for congress, the arizona county legislature, and yuma county offices.

    it all began with one individual, who believes in the principles of reform, running for yuma county recorder in 2004.

    by-the-by this individual running for president on the reform party ballot is not registered as reform in arizona.

    third party building grassroots is a viable option in yuma county, arizona.

    the bottom line is gotv (get ou the vote) by having a list of 10 names, having a meeting with the ten, getting ten new lists of 10 names, having a meeting…...............WOW

  6. Ronald Rapoport Says:

    As one of the authors of the book, Three’s a Crowd, I think that the three names suggested by Citizens for a Better Veterans Home are interesting. I think that the one that stands out is Lou Dobbs. As opposed to the other two (who are moderate businessmen), Dobbs captures a new agenda (trade and immigration) that has proven very difficult for either major party to take a clear stand on. In both cases there are mixed signals and idvisions within th parties. These are the kinds of issues (in 1992, the deficit, term limits, money in politics, and economic nationalism) on which Perot was able to capitalize.

    It is far more difficult for parties ofthe center to emerge and hold onto their support thorugh a campaign in which the major parties strongly differentiate themselves (as on abortion, social security, etc.). There is too much at stake for voters who know that parties will enact hugely differnet policies. There is much more incentive to make a decision between the major parties, rather than defect to a third party unless it can claim a realistic chance of winning in November (which even Perot did not at the time of the election.

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