Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A perennial candidate is one who frequently runs for public office with a record of success that is either infrequent or non-existent. Perennial candidates are often either members of "fringe" political parties or have political opinions that are not mainstream. They run not with any serious hope of gaining office, but in order to promote their views. The most persistent perennial candidate is John C. Turmel who has run in a world-record 58 elections.
Famous perennial candidates
- Harold Stassen is probably the best known perennial candidate, at least in the United States. The one time governor of Minnesota ran for the Republican Party's nomination for President of the United States on nine occasions between 1948 and 1992. While Stassen was considered a serious candidate in 1948 and 1952, his attempts were increasingly met with derision and then amusement as the decades progressed.
- Lyndon LaRouche, a fringe US political figure, holds the record for the most consecutive attempts at the US presidency. He has run in the last eight elections, beginning in 1976. He will tie Stassen's record of nine attempts if he runs again in 2008.
- Pat Paulsen, a comedian best known for his appearances on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, first ran for US President in 1968 as both a joke and a protest. He ran again in 1972, and in succeeding elections until 1996, one year prior to his death.
- Norman Thomas was the Socialist Party's candidate for President of the United States on six occasions from 1928 to 1948 inclusive. Unlike other perennial candidates, Thomas had a degree of influence over American politics and many of his policies were appropriated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal.
- Eugene Debs was a presidential candidate for the Social Democratic Party in 1900 and thereafter for the Socialist Party in four more elections: 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. In the 1920 election, while in jail for opposing conscription, he received 913,664 votes, the most ever for a Socialist Party presidential candidate.
- John W. Griffin, an Ohioan who has run numerous times for federal, state, and local office.
- Screaming Lord Sutch ran in 39 general elections and by-elections for the British House of Commons, as well as one election for the European Parliament, never winning much more than 1,000 votes. He first ran in 1963 for the National Teenage Party in the seat left vacant by the resignation of John Profumo. He is best known for having founded the Monster Raving Loony Party in 1983. He led the party until his suicide in 1999.
- Henri-Georges Grenier ran 13 times for election to the Canadian House of Commons between 1945 and 1980 for a variety of political parties, for each of which he was the sole candidate.
- Ben Kerr, a street musician, has run for Mayor of Toronto seven times since 1985. He is best known for his country music performances and for advocating the medicinal benefits of drinking a concotion that has cayenne pepper as its main ingredient.
- John C. Turmel is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the candidate who has lost the largest number of elections: 58 as of 2005.
- Douglas Campbell has run as a fringe candidate for federal parliament in the 1960s, the leadership of both the Ontario and federal New Democratic Party in the 1970s and 1980s, Mayor of North York, Ontario and Mayor of Toronto in 2000 and 2003.
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