Prohibition Party to Run Oldest Candidate


There is a certain amusing synergy to America’s oldest continuous third party running America’s oldest candidate in 2006. Founded in 1869, the party reached the peak of support in 1892 when Prohibition Presidential nominee John Bidwell captured over 2% of the national vote. The party has been in a slide ever since. Retired business consultant John Heckman has been a frequent candidate for various offices under numerous Independent and third party labels over the past thirty years. Next year, at age 98, the Prohibition Party announced Heckman will be its nominee for Congress in the open Colorado CD-7 race. The party’s newsletter boasts Heckman will “very likely [be] the oldest person running for any office in the United States next year, as well as the oldest person ever to run for Congress.”

7 Responses to “Prohibition Party to Run Oldest Candidate”

  1. Chronicler Says:

    I am not sure why Ron has such a negative assessment of the Prohibition Party. Even though the party has experienced a tremendous boost in recent years, with a far greater increased percentage of the vote than Ron’s candidates seem to be able to manage, he continues with his negativity. (Guess it hurts to lose)

    Recently I sent Ron an article about the Prohibition Party national mid-term conference. He totally re-wrote the story and added details which were in fact not accurate. Most of what he reported was the same hogwash that he put in this news item, not what actually took place.

    His reporting about news items I have been involved with makes me seriously doubt his credibility in his other reporting.

  2. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I will agree with the point that the Prohibition Party is in far better shape today than it was 10 or even 20 years ago.

  3. NewFederalist Says:

    Austin- How so?

  4. Chronicler Says:

    I think that I can answer that.

    1) The chairman emiritus, Earl F. Dodge, was the ‘head’ of the party for two decades. During that time, all state organizations floundered and disappeared except three which were not meeting regularly in 2003. Our new national leaders are working to rebuild state organizations, already successful in Florida and Pennsylvania.

    2) The previous leadership was more interested in gaining easy ballot access than doing serious work to get on the ballot. Dodge was listed on fewer and fewer ballots, receiving progressively fewer and fewer votes. He even failed to get the 25 signatures required by Tennessee in that state’s old system in 2000. When Amondson ran in 2004, he received the most votes for the party since 1988, out-polling Dodge’s totals in 1992, 1996, and 2000, and handily defeating him in a one-on-one match in Dodge’s home state of Colorado.

    3) The new national leadership is actively working to get Prohibition candidates on the ballot. Does anyone even know when the party last had a nominee for the U.S. House? The last that I am sure of was 1982.

    4) The old national leadership squandered a host of funds and endowments which had been set aside for the party. And where did the money go? Certainly not for party activities, since the party was allowed to wither during these very years. The new leadership is working on rebuilding the national treasury for the sole purpose of getting our people on the ballot.

    5) The old leadership was not responsible with party outreach. The party newsletter and website were moving towards becoming mirrors of the national leader, not a party newsletter. The old website was almost half dedicated to Dodge’s personal business and not to the party.

    Just in summary, consider this. For the presidential election of 2008, the Prohibition Party is already going to appear on the ballot in Florida. Unless something changes drastically, we will be able to appear on the ballot in the two ‘easy’ states of Colorado and Louisiana again. Now that we have an active committee in Pennsylvania, we at least have a shot of appearing on the ballot here for the first time since 1952. If we only get on the ballot in these four states, we will receive as many votes in 2008 as Dodge did in his entire career of 1984-2004. We already have local candidates on the ballot and in line for 2006. This is a striking change from the situation in 2002.

  5. Ron Gunzburger Says:

    Simple question: What is incorrect about the article?

    (a) 1892 was the Prohibition Party’s peak of support in a national race. True or false? [Note: Has the party even garnered more than 0.1% of the vote in a Presidential contest at any time in the past 70 years?]

    (b) The party calls itself “America’s Oldest Third Party” in printed materials. True or false?

    (c) The newsletter boasted the party would get attention by running the “oldest” candidate in the nation in 2006. True or false?

    (d) Heckman has been a candidate for one public office or another in Colorado in nearly every every election year since 1980. True or false?

    Yes, the party is better off these days than when Dodge ran the party—but almost anything would have been an improvement from that!! Let’s face it, most candidates for high school student council president drew better vote totals than did Dodge for President in 2000!!

    Running a 98-year-old for Congress is purely a gimmick—not a serious political run for office.

    So, what part of the article is “negative”?

  6. Chronicler Says:

    Here is Ron’s article on the National Mid-Term Conference:

    Minister, artist and temperance lecturer Gene Amondson (Prohibition-AK) fell just a few votes short—well, about 62 million or so votes short—of winning the Presidency last year. But still, he was encouraged enough by the 1,900 votes he captured that he told party activists at their recent national convention that he’ll be back for a second White House run in 2008. Party activists were so pleased with Amondson—not that there was a wide pool of options—that they also elected him to be the party’s new National Chairman. While the total was rather paltry, Amondson’s 2004 vote total was still the party’s best showing since 1988.

    1) Granted, Amondson only received 1,900 votes. Perhaps paltry. Instead of presenting this information in context (viz., new party leadership has led to significantly increased participation and higher vote totals), Ron is satisfied to state that it was merely the highest since 1988. Never mind that it was an increase of 800% over the vote of 2000. If Ron’s party had increased its % by 800%, we would have a different president and congress.

    2) “... he told party activists at their recent national convention that he’ll be back for a second White House run in 2008.” I didn’t hear Gene say this. Where did this come from? The truth was what I sent Ron in the e-mail - Amondson agreed to be the tentative nominee for fundraising and ballot access efforts. We may or may not nominate him in 2007. The Prohibition Party does not have a dictator.

    3) “Party activists were so pleased with Amondson—not that there was a wide pool of options—that they also elected him to be the party’s new National Chairman.” Do you want the pool of options? We had at least a dozen people who might have been chosen to lead the national party. Do you want their names? I would be glad to list them. Ron’s story suggests that only two or three people showed up, not that the convention was the best attended in a decade.

    I don’t agree with a lot of positions of the various parties. However, I attempt to be fair to all political parties on the websites where I am active. On this website, I have posted histories of several political parties in the encyclopedia, most of which I would never support. However, I do not use these opportunities to trash people I don’t agree with. The website where I spend most of my internet time is, and you can ask around there if I am fair to all parties or not. Ask them if Ron is more fair to candidates than I am.

  7. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Running a very old candidate like that is a gimmick, but it’s a smart one. If it gets the party some attention and reminds them that there are still Prohibitionists out there, then that’s good for the party. At least during this phase of the rebuilding, pretty much any press is good press.

    I would commend Ron big time for giving the Prohibition Party coverage in the first place. A lot of sites like his don’t bother to report on the Greens and Libertarians even, so just doing multiple articles on the Prohibition Party is itself impressive.