They've clawed and scratched often with little or no money to get attention, traction or even just acknowledgment that they might have an impact on a congressional race this election season.
"I'd like to be called a spoiler," Daniel Geery said. "Right now, I'm invisible."
Geery is running for the U.S. Senate as a member of the Utah Justice Party. So is independent Bill Barron, who admitted he's a single issue candidate for the environment ("I have chosen to take this stand on behalf of the Earth").
Both sat at a table with three other candidates for the Utah's 2nd Congressional District on Monday night to talk about their beliefs related to the corrosive influence of money in the major political parties.
The forum, moderated by Jeff Robinson of KCPW at the Salt Lake City Main Library and broadcast live, focused mostly on the frustration of feeling frozen out of the process by Republicans and Democrats.
Joe Andrade, who is seeking the 2nd Congressional seat as an independent candidate, offered a stark assessment of his chances in the face of the two major parties.
"There's not a chance in hell any of us are getting elected," Andrade said.
But he said the mission was bigger than that. He said if the candidates can garner enough votes, it brings more credibility to the idea of multiple parties. Then, he said, voters might see more options open up.
"I think it sends a message," he said. "And if you have a credible showing, it sends a stronger message."
But not all of the candidates agreed with his outlook for this election cycle.
Jonathan Garrard, a Constitution Party candidate, said he thought "the time is right" for people to look for alternatives to the two parties in Congress, where polling shows a public satisfaction hovering in the teens.
Charles Kimball, another independent running for Utah's 2nd Congressional District, said it was "a noble effort" to run after listening to his daughter ask him about the brown cloud settled over Salt Lake County one day.
"I took that to heart," Kimball said. "I think we should all take that sort of question to heart. It's not a lost cause to lose an election. It's a lost cause not to participate."
Andrade, Garrard and Kimball are challenging Democrat Jay Seegmiller and Republican Chris Stewart for the 2nd Congressional seat. Barron and Geery are taking on Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Democrat Scott Howell.
Twitter: @davemontero Third party candidate websites
Joe Andrade • http://www.2andrade.org
Bill Barron • http://www.barronforussenate.com
Jonathan Garrard • http://www.utah-constitution-party.org
Daniel Geery • http://www.danielgeery.com
Charles Kimball • http://www.kimballforcongress.com