Billings area real estate broker Sam Rankin is trying to jump into the U.S. Senate race for 2014. But rather than mixing into the state Democrat and Republican parties, Rankin has decided to run as an independent, which means he'll have a lot of work to do to get on the ballot.

For starters, he'll will need to convince 17, 415 Montanans to sign onto an initiative to put him on the ballot. After that, Rankin will need to garner a majority of the vote by appealing to what he sees as widespread resentment for the countries two big tent parties.

Rankin is confident, and frequently cites a January 2014 Gallop poll showing that a record 42 percent of Americans now identify as "independents."

In order to get on the ballot, Rankin has decided to take a controversial position and not tell voters how he stands on issues, which he says, may be totally different by the time he's actually on the ballot. Instead, Rankin is pitching his candidacy as simply another option in the democratic stream, and is asking voters to "give him a shot" at portraying views that Democrat and Republican senate candidates won't.

A glance at Rankin's website shows no "issues" page. Even without one though, it is clear that Rankin has strong opinions on issues such as campaign finance reform. Take the following sentence for example:

Republicans and Democrats have shown that despite whatever superficial differences they display in public, they share one common trait completely and fully. They both depend on ever increasing campaign donations to get elected, and they're all too willing to pay back their big-money donors once they arrive in Washington.

At the moment, Rankin is trying to mobilize a publicity base in hopes of snagging enough signatures. To even get on the ballot, he'll have to convince voters that more options are good, even if all of the options aren't fully laid out.



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