Do Republicans Have the Third-Party Blues?

As we noted on election night with some sense of déjà vu, green and libertarian candidates wreaked terror this year on the major parties. In Virginia, independent green Gail Parker now seems to have left Jim Webb with enough liberal scraps to make a Democratic victory banner in the Senate (rumors have it that Allen will to concede today at 3:00)–but over at the GOP, Karl Rove is finally feeling the third-party blues. Rove’s woe has been triggered by a Smurf-like (more on this shortly) libertarian, Stan Jones, who helped bring down the mighty Conrad Burns in Montana by snatching three percent of the don’t-tread-on-me vote, quite likely tipping the race to Democratic challenger Jon Tester. The Republicans have thus far accepted this liklihood with noble restraint. Jones told me no angry red staters have called to harass him, and I couldn’t find a single complaint about his race on conservative blogs. It could be Republicans are too shell shocked to notice. Or, to their credit, too preoccupied with soul searching.

That Jones could be the man who indirectly turned Montana, and thus the whole Senate, blue, is oddly poetic given that Jones is himself blue. By this I don’t mean he’s sad, louche, or a libertarian with Democratic sympathies (though the lattermost is also true), but that Stan Jones is blue. A few bloggers know the story: In the days leading up to the dawn of the new millennium, Jones believed the Y2K virus could cause the collapse of Western Civilization. To steel his immune system against a post-apocalypse wracked by pandemics, he began drinking a solution of ionic silver, which he believed was a more powerful armor than vitamin C. “The pioneers that crossed the plains of America used to put a silver dollar in the bottom of a bucket of milk to keep it fresh longer,” he explained when I reached him at his house in Bozeman. “So anyway, I studied it, and I thought it would be a good preventative, so I just started taking it all the time. But I wasn’t smart enough to figure out the whole story.” He didn’t realize the silver ions would bind with minerals in the Montana tap water and lodge in his cells. “The silver is nontoxic; it doesn’t affect my health in any way,” he says, “but I am a little blue-grey.”

Not all the time, it should be noted. But most definitely under fluorescent bulbs in rotary clubs and rec centers.

So what role did Jones’ blueness play in helping him win the votes that turned the Senate? “I think it’s a wash,” he says. “People don’t treat me any differently than anyone else. I mean, Bozeman’s not a big town, and people that come around, they’re used to me.”