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Independent Falchuk Hits Threshold To Start New Party

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
Evan Falchuk started his United Independent Party in 2013.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Charlie Baker will be the next governor. But, there was another winner Tuesday night — independent Evan Falchuk.
Falchuk received 3.3 percent of the vote, hitting the threshold to have his United Independent Party legally recognized as a political party. 
"It's an amazing thing. There were so many people who said it couldn't be done," Falchuk said on Wednesday afternoon. "It says a lot about the voters and the need for this party."
The Newton businessman launched his campaign for both governor and for the start of the United Independent Party in 2013.
He said he grew tired of the bickering among the two major parties. He sought to run a more positive campaign focused on remodeling the political process, saying the majority of the residents aren't being listened to in the current system.
He says he hit a lot of "roadblocks" in the campaign to get legally recognized as a party. He says those systems are in place to keep him and others outside the main parties from competing for the vote.
Still, the United Independent Party earned the 3 percent to break some of those barriers down. Next, the party can field primaries, have registered voters and have a spot on the ballot.
"We've had at least 20 people reach out to us to run in 2016 under the United Independent banner," Falchuk said.
If the party fails to hit the 3 percent again, the party loses its recognition. The Green-Rainbow Party has gained and lost their recognition multiple times over the years — including gaining it again on Tuesday.
Falchuk says the party will now transition to building momentum for 2016, right after they file the needed legal paperwork and new voter registration forms are released.
"Now we are going to be very focused on signing people up," Falchuk said. "The things you need to do to win an election are the same things you need to build a party."
Already pundits have claimed Falchuk took votes that would have gone to other candidates. But, he refutes that claim. 
"You do not take votes from anybody. It is the people's vote and your job is to earn it," he said.
He says his supporters are "inspired" and that he found a lot of support in younger voters and in Western Massachusetts. 
"We did very well in the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley," he said. "We spent a lot of time in that part of the state."
In fact, Falchuk says consultants told him to stop traveling west of Worcester too much because there wasn't enough of the vote. But, that's the type of voter he is looking for. He says he was seeking out voters who felt "disenfranchised" and "unrepresented" within the system and that includes geographically. 
"Those are the people who are supporting us. Those are the people who are starting this coalition," he said. "Everybody knows this is needed."
He says he found support in people who wouldn't have supported either Democrat or Republican candidate.
With additional credibility with the legal designation, Falchuk is optimistic that the party will be growing. He hopes to show those who grew up with a two-party system that there is another option.
In the next two year, he says he is going to continue to talk about issues — such as housing and the cost of living — that were neglected toward the end of the campaign by Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Baker. 
"We need to have a sustained grassroots effort to make sure these issues are being talked about," he said.
In the next few weeks, Falchuk will be revamping the organization to make the transition from one gubernatorial campaign to building the party. And then in 2016, the United Independent Party will focus on multiple campaigns across the state.

Baker Wins Governor's Race

Staff Reports
Charlie Baker, right, meeting with supporters in Pittsfield earlier this year. The Republican is the projected winner in his second race for the governor's office, defeating Berkshire County native Martha Coakley.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The race for governor was down to the wire between Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker on Tuesday and flowed into Wednesday morning.

Trailing significantly and with most major news organizations calling the race for the Baker, Coakley conceded the race shortly after 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

The Democrat Coakley wasn't ready to concede after polls closed and the results were being tallied in the late hours of Tuesday. Supporters left her campaign headquarters.

Shortly after 1 a.m., Baker gave a speech to his supporters that sounded like he was claiming victory.

""In this election, every vote counted," he said, followed by pledges to bring fiscal discipline and a "new director" to the state.

Then, however, he wasn't quite ready to make declarative statements regarding to vote, giving Coakley until the morning. Local Republicans weren't so reserved about their candidate's victory.

"We are certainly thrilled Charlie Baker will be our next governor. He's the right guy at the right time," said Berkshire County Republican Association President Jim Bronson.

Bronson was one of a handful supporters left at GOP campaign headquarters on Merrill Road early Wednesday morning — the rest had headed out as the gubernatorial race dragged on into the night. Local Baker supporters gathered there Tuesday to watch the results of both the Massachusetts race but also the federal elections across the country.

"It was a little closer than we would have liked to see," he said, citing polls that showed Baker with a larger lead heading into election day.

Baker was up by 25,000 votes by 12:21 a.m. with 94 percent of precincts reporting. Major news organizations were calling the race in his favor.

Both parties had campaigned hard over the last few weeks to get their supporters to the polls. The results were close, as the lead changed between the candidates several times over the course of the evening.

By contrast, the other statewide races were a sweep for the Democrats; a loss by Coakley may be more about the candidates than the parties. Bronson said he thought Baker ran a better campaign than his 2010 run, saying Baker showed "the real Charlie." 

Berkshire County, however, went heavily for Coakley. She outpolled Baker 3 to 1 in her hometown of North Adams and nearly 4 to 1 in Williamstown. She also outpaced Baker by more than 4,000 votes in Pittsfield.

Attorney general winner Maura Healy, who stopped in both Pittsfield and North Adams over the weekend, was also a local favorite as well. Initial reports also showed Auditor Suzanne Bump of Great Barrington far outpacing her opponents in the county.

Despite losing all of the other state seats, local Republicans were also happy with the party picking up seven seats in the U.S. Senate, giving the GOP a majority.

"Republicans now have a couple of years to prove we can do what we said we'd do," Bronson said. "It is tremendous. It is the way the country needs to go."

Several North County town went against the grain on expanding the bottle bill, with Williamstown backing it 1,776 to 703, even as it went down to defeat by more than 70 percent statewide. Both Berkshire cities and several North County towns also bucked the trend on Question 1, voting against repealing the inflation-indexing of the gas tax. The question polled 53 percent "yes" to go back to a standard tax statewide. There was plenty of support for the ballot questions on earned sick time and keeping casinos, both of which also passed statewide. Explanations on the questions can be found here.

North Adams election worker Ron O'Brien said people had been steadily filtering into the polls all day to vote.

"It started out slow but it has been steady," O'Brien said at about 2 p.m. "A lot more steady than it has been in the past."

Out of the 8,864 registered voters 1,314 had voted in the four wards at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center by 2 p.m., and about 363 at Ward 4 at Greylock Elementary School shortly after noon.

Williamstown had a solid turnout of 54 percent of the town's electorate in the midterm election. Votes were cast by 2,521 residents from a checklist of 4,686.

Not all of them cast ballots in all the races, however. In the only contested local race on the ballot, the Mount Greylock School Committee, the second-leading vote-getter was "Blanks."

Voters were asked to choose two of three names for the two four-year seats on the committee that were at stake. Incumbent Carolyn Greene received 1,752 votes. "Blanks" received 1,257. The other winner along with Greene, Wendy Penner, received votes from 1,127 Williamstown voters.

Pittsfield had a turnout of 39.9 percent, with 11,372 voters for the city's 28,501 casting ballots.

Adams was also busy, said Town Clerk Haley Mezcywor: "It has been pretty steady today. It was really busy right around noon."

In Clarksburg, the numbers were trending up over voting in this year's town election with more than 160 voting by noon; a total of 246 had voted in the May election.

North Adams City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau had predicted about a 33 percent turnout this year, judging by the number of absentee ballots already submitted by last week.

She thought the tight gubernatorial race, which features Berkshires native Martha Coakley squaring off against opponent Charlie Baker, and the four question on the ballot may bring more people out.

"I would love to see 45 percent but I don't think that's realistic," she said last week.

It ended up being more that at 38 percent, with 3,357 of the city's 8,864 voters casting ballots. Despite predictions of low turnout, voting had been steady at least North County. Clarksburg was tracking at about 50 percent turnout by 6 p.m. and ended with a total of 52 percent, or 570 voters out of 1,078 casting ballots.

Town Clerk Carol Jammalo, too, thought the ballot questions could be driving turnout.

Or it might have been state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi.

The North Adams Democrat hasn't let the lack of a challenger this election dim her efforts at reaching voters. Cariddi sent out more than 8,000 postcards not only asking for votes for herself but for the full Democratic lineup as well.

"I think I knocked on 1,000 doors," she said outside the polling station at St. Elizabeth's.

Voter David Brown was impressed enough to get her autograph on the postcard he received.

"I drove 115 miles to make sure I got back here to vote," said Brown, who drives about 300 miles a day for his delivery job. "I went over to Millbury and Auburn and I'm telling you I made it back here on purpose to vote."

Brown said he wanted to make sure he cast votes for Cariddi and Martha Coakley, and against the expansion of the bottle bill.

"I don't think consumers want to pay for a 28-pack [of water] another $1.40 and then have the inconvenience of bringing those bottles back," he said, unconvinced that more bottle deposits would spur recycling.

In addition to the gubernatorial race that also includes three independent candidates, voters decided races for auditor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer, as well U.S. senator. All other elected offices had no challengers.

    Election Results *Ward 4 Missing  
    Adams Cheshire Clarksburg Lanesborough North Adams Pittsfield Williamstown
U.S. Senate Herr (R) 735   168 315 685 2576 455
Markey (D) 1663   381 592 2510 8289 1986
Governor Baker (R) 600   174 312 791 3093 549
Coakley (D) 1455   377 558 2388 7437 1885
Attorney General Healey (D) 1634   372 593 2454 8142 1988
Miller (R) 519   174 309 735 2720 452
Auditor Bump (D) 1618   376 594 1750* 7483 1835
Merelice (GR)     143 27 109* 477 114
Saint Aubin (R) 429   12 262 418* 2314 402
Sec. State D'Arcangelo (R) 492   163 290 700 2506 415
Factor (GR)     16 33 144 599 126
Galvin (D) 1580   365 570 2371 7700 1866
Treasurer Goldberg (D) 1506   348 546 1673* 7480 1754
Heffernan (R) 526   174 300 440* 2601 479
Jackson (GR)     15 37 127* 571 131
Gas tax
Yes 986   255 433 1427 4950 836
No 1138   291 460 1722 5871 1538
Bottle Bill
Yes 1083   265 540 1654 5609 1776
No 1102   293 389 1608 5524 703
Yes 705   207 404 1205 4747 1613
No 1449   347 509 2017 6295 823
Sick Time
Yes 1306   313 628 2270 7733 1800
No 843   179 286 946 3273 615