Rift emerges between Independent Party running mates


BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Two running mates whose campaign produced a new political party last November parted ways right after the election.

Having secured 3.3 percent of the vote through a largely self-financed campaign for governor, Evan Falchuk is continuing to pour money into his efforts to build a new political party and rally opposition against the bid for a Boston Olympics.

Not accompanying Falchuk on his current endeavors is his former running-mate, Angus Jennings, a Concord resident, who is eager to get on with his career as a planning consultant.

“It’s very difficult for me to talk on the record given the depth of feelings I have on this matter,” Jennings told the News Service when asked about Falchuk’s continued political pursuits. He said the United Independent Party has become “much more about an individual than a collective effort.”

Falchuk said the party has been holding regular organizing meetings, has registered 2,300 members, a step toward the 43,000 members needed by November 2016 to retain party status, and candidates for local office this year will be running as members of UIP.

When initially told of Jennings’s comments on Wednesday, Falchuk said, “That’s weird,” though he did not offer a rejoinder and praised Jennings’s insight on matters of housing and zoning.

“Angus is his own guy and I respect him, and I really don’t have any negative words for him,” the Newton resident told the News Service.

“I’ve returned my focus to my work on behalf of my clients,” said Jennings, who said he last spoke to his running mate about a week after Election Day following daily conversations during the campaign.

Last April, Falchuk tapped Jennings as the two first-time candidates set out to appeal to voters fed up with Democrats and Republicans. At the time Falchuk said Jennings was “absolutely” his first choice of running-mate.

“You try to build the best team that you can,” Falchuk said when asked what the split might say about his ongoing efforts to grow and sustain the United Independent Party. He said, “Anytime you don’t win an election it’s challenging.”

Jennings closed up his political finance account and though he remains enrolled in the United Independent Party he helped found, he said he is open to changing his designation.

“Not being independently wealthy, I don’t have the time to be an effective counterpoint within the party,” Jennings told the News Service on Thursday.

A former executive at the health care firm Best Doctors Inc., who said he has saved money over the years, Falchuk has so far plowed about $1.9 million into his political operation, which began in 2013. About $300,000 of Falchuk’s dollars arrived after Election Day, according to Office of Campaign and Political Finance records.

“I’ve continued to spend because what we’ve been working on is building out the party,” said Falchuk, a critic of political spending who believes major parties have unfair advantages in that area and campaigns should be publicly financed. Asked how long he could keep the operation going, Falchuk said, “We’re not stopping.”

A happy warrior during last year’s debates, Falchuk has set his sights on the proposal to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston, calling it “the poster child for a rigged system.”

“It’s like a Rosetta stone. It reveals for people what’s going on behind the scenes,” Falchuk said of the Olympics bid pushed by Boston 2024, a politically wired non-profit. He said, “This is really the next ten years being decided behind closed doors, and voters are understandably concerned when they see that happen.”

Falchuk and his allies established the People’s Vote Olympics Committee to campaign for a ballot question banning state funding or guarantees for the Olympics – except for transportation spending.

While Jennings agrees in general that public dollars should only be spent on needed infrastructure in connection with the Olympics, he is more optimistic about the endeavor than Falchuk and said the “amount of money that would be introduced into the state’s economy if it were the successful host is just tremendous.”

“I think there’s a lot of good that can come out of it,” Jennings said. He said, “I think there’s a lot to be gained by putting our best foot forward on this.”

Falchuk said that if lawmakers enact legislation that accomplishes his goals of protecting state money from the Olympics organizers, he would focus on other areas of policy.

Jennings said he was disappointed at what he said was a lack of interest during the campaign in the high cost of housing and the potential for new zoning laws to encourage better housing policies – matters that he said are of enormous importance to middle-class people.

“People are fleeing the state like it’s on fire, and Beacon Hill is scratching its head wondering why – because people can’t afford it,” Jennings said. He said, “I never thought we were going to win. It’s about being part of the dialogue.”

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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