Perennial candidate

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A perennial candidate is a political candidate who frequently runs for an elected office but seldom wins. The term generally isn't applied to incumbent politicians who successfully defend their seats repeatedly.

Perennial candidates can vary widely in nature. Some are independents who lack the support of the major political parties in an area or are members of alternative parties (such as "third parties" in the United States). Others may be mainstream candidates who can consistently win a party's nomination, but because their district is gerrymandered so that the party can never win a general election, the candidate likewise never gets elected (thus these types are often paper candidates). Still others may typically run in primary elections for a party's nomination and lose repeatedly. Numerous political candidates, although not all, run with the full knowledge of their inability to win election and instead use their candidacy for satire, to advance non-mainstream political platforms, or to take advantage of benefits afforded political candidates (such as campaign financing and television advertising benefits).

Below is a list of notable perennial candidates.


  • José Saúl Wermus a.k.a. Jorge Altamira, leader of the trotskyist Partido Obrero, has run for President five times (1989, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2011). His best performance was in 2011, with 2.31% of the votes.


  • Ben Buckley, a farmer, has (unsuccessfully) contested Gippsland in the House of Representatives on 10 separate occasions. He first contested the seat in 1984, and has contested every election since 2001. An independent on six occasions, Buckley ran as a One Nation candidate in 2004, and has run as a Liberal Democrat in the past three elections (2008, 2010, and 2013). His best result came in 2010, when he polled 5.52% of the vote.



  • Lula da Silva also ran for the Presidency in 1989, 1994 and 1998, achieving the second largest number of votes on each occasion. He ultimately won in 2002, and was reelected in 2006.


  • Ben Kerr, a street musician, ran for Mayor of Toronto seven times between 1985 and his death in 2005. He was best known for his country music performances and for advocating the medicinal benefits of drinking a concoction that has cayenne pepper as its main ingredient.
  • Patricia Métivier contested 24 Canadian federal, provincial or municipal elections from 1972 to 2001.
  • Naomi Rankin ran for the Communist Party of Canada in 2008, her eighth attempt at becoming an MP. She has also ran six times for the Communist Party of Alberta, also all unsuccessful.
  • Harry Bradley ran for the Toronto Board of Control 24 times between 1930 and 1964. He also ran for mayor in 1960 and 1962, and for city council in 1969.
  • Kevin Clarke is a homeless person who has unsuccessfully contested municipal, provincial and federal office in Toronto numerous times from the 1990s to the present, often as leader of The People's Political Party.


Costa Rica[edit]


  • Kostas Kyriacou, otherwise known as "Outopos", has been a candidate for every Presidential and Parliamentary election since 1998 but has never gained more than 1% of the vote.

Czech Republic[edit]

  • Jana Bobošíková is known for a series of unsuccessful candidatures in various elections. She unsuccessfully ran two times for President of Czech Republic (2008 and 2013), Chamber of Deputies (2010, 2013), Senate of Czech Republic (2010, 2011), Mayor of city of Prague (2010) and General Manager of Czech Television (2009).


  • Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, has been a candidate five times (1974, 1988, 1995, 2002 and 2007) in the French Presidential elections.




  • Hotte Paksha Rangaswamy was a political leader from the Indian state of Karnataka, who had a penchant for contesting elections. He is a Guinness World Records holder for having contested the highest number of elections - he unsuccessfully did so 86 times.
  • Kaka Joginder Singh (alias Dharti Pakad meaning "one who clings to the ground", earned after several unsuccessful runs for the President of India.[2]) was a textile owner who contested and lost over 300 elections in India. Although his nomination papers were usually disregarded by the election commission, he reached his high-water mark during the 1992 10th Presidential elections where he earned fourth place in the polling with 1135 votes, eventually losing to Shankar Dayal Sharma



  • Mitsuo Matayoshi (alias Jesus Matayoshi), leader of the World Economic Community Party and self-proclaimed Messiah, has run in at least nine local and national elections since 1997.


  • Nicolás Zúñiga y Miranda was a Presidential candidate ten times: 1892, 1896, 1900, 1904, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1920 and 1924 and also tried to run for a seat in the Congress of Mexico at least twice. The eccentric Zúñiga never got more than a few votes, but always claimed to have been the victim of fraud and considered himself to be the legitimate president.


  • Pascual Racuyal unsuccessfully ran for President eleven times (1935, 1941, 1946, 1949, 1953, 1957, 1961, 1965, 1969, 1981 and 1986), although he was disqualified on all but two (1935 and 1969).



  • Philippe Boullé has unsuccessfully run for President four times (1993, 2001, 2006 and 2011).


  • Ooi Boon Ewe has applied three times (1999, 2005 and 2011) to run for President, all unsuccessfully. He had also tried to contest in both 2006 and 2011 general elections, in which both times he failed to get nominated.
  • Zeng Guo Yuan


United Kingdom[edit]

  • Bill Boaks contested general and by-elections for a period of 30 years under various descriptions, most famously "Public Safety Democratic Monarchist White Resident". Boaks's main concern was public safety on the roads and believed that pedestrians should have the right of way at all times. In the Glasgow Hillhead by-election, 1982 he received only 5 votes, one of the lowest recorded in a modern British Parliamentary election. He died in 1986 from injuries sustained in a car accident two years earlier.
  • Arthur Hunnable's name never appeared on a ballot paper, but he campaigned and announced that he would stand in almost every by-election from 1907 to 1909, and also in Jarrow at the 1918 general election.
  • Lindi St Clair ran in numerous elections for her "Corrective Party", on some occasions standing as "Miss Whiplash".

United States[edit]

  • Al Krulick, a Walt Disney theme park actor,[4] is a Democrat who lost back-to-back races against Bill McCollum for Florida's 8th Congressional seat in 1996 and 1998. Disney would not back him in 1998, preferring his Republican opponent.[5] Krulick ran as a Green Party candidate in 2010 for Florida's State Lieutenant Governor. In 2014, after failing to qualify as a Democratic candidate, he is running as an NPA candidate in Florida's 7th Congressional seat.[6]
  • Ted Brown, a California Libertarian, has run for state and federal office 14 times in the last 30 years, never receiving more than 6% of the vote.
  • Jeff Boss is a conspiracy theorist who believes that the NSA is responsible for the September 11 attacks. He has run in the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections and plans to run in 2016.
  • Guy Carbone,[citation needed] a Massachusetts Democrat turned Republican, has run for Northern District District Attorney in 1978 and 1982, Governor of Massachusetts in 1986, Massachusetts Attorney General in 1990, 1994, and 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, and the Massachusetts Senate in 1998. He also ran for Governor in 1982 and 1990 before dropping out to pursue another office.
  • Jacob Coxey best known for his 1894 March on Washington DC, Coxey ran 3 times for US Senate for Ohio, and twice as the People's Party nominee for Governor of Ohio in 1895 and 1897. Coxey also was the Mayor of Massilon, OH from 1931 to 1933 in addition to losing numerous congressional races.
  • Jack Davis, founder of a heating element manufacturing company and protectionism advocate, has unsuccessfully run for the seat representing New York's 26th congressional district four times in five elections between 2004 and 2011, three times as a Democrat and the fourth as an independent. He has not ruled out future runs for office.
  • Matt Doheny, a Wall Street investment manager, ran for the Northern New York seat in Congress (New York's 21st congressional district as of 2014) four consecutive times between 2009 and 2014; he lost in the party caucuses in 2009, in the general election in 2010 and 2012, and in a primary election in 2014.
  • Jack Fellure ran for the Republican Party nomination in every presidential election from 1988 to 2012. In the 2012 campaign, he withdrew from the Republican nomination race, and become the presidential nominee of the Prohibition Party.
  • Edward Forchion, a pro-marijuana activist also known as NJWEEDMAN, has repeatedly run for statewide and local offices in New Jersey.
  • Gatewood Galbraith, a political gadfly known for his outspoken advocacy of civil liberties and legalization of marijuana, ran unsuccessfully for state and federal offices in his home state of Kentucky no fewer than nine times. He ran twice for the U.S. House, once for state agriculture commissioner, once for state attorney general, and five times for governor. His final run for governor ended less than two months before his death in January 2012.
  • Kevin Gaughan, an advocate for municipal downsizing, has run unsuccessfully for office six times, in addition to his mixed record at spearheading referendums to eliminate municipalitiets and reduce the number of elected officials.
  • Goodspaceguy, who legally changed his name from Michael George Nelson, has run for local, state, and federal office in Washington state more than a dozen times.
  • John Hagelin, a physicist and co-founder of the Natural Law Party, was that party's only presidential candidate in its history. Hagelin ran three times (in 1992, 1996 and 2000) before the party folded in 2004.
  • James Harris has been the Socialist Workers Party's nominee for President five consecutive times since the 1996 election in at least a handful of states; three times he has run as an active candidate through the entire country, and the other two times he appeared as a dummy candidate substituting for the constitutionally ineligible candidacy of foreign-born Róger Calero, who was the party's official nominee, in states that would not allow Calero on the ballot.
  • Howie Hawkins, co-founder of the Green Party, has run unsuccessfully for 19 political offices and is in the process of running a 20th campaign.
  • John Jay Hooker, a Tennessee Democrat, ran for several Tennessee offices, in later years mainly to gain standing for lawsuits against more serious candidates on the grounds of campaign finance violations.
  • Keith Russell Judd, who is currently serving a 17-year federal prison sentence, has run for office at least five times, including one-state runs in Democratic Presidential primaries in 1996, 2008 in 2012. Judd's 2012 run, in the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary, was a surprisingly strong showing, as he (being one of only two people on the ballot, the other being incumbent President Barack Obama) finished with over 40% of the vote, winning several counties primarily as a protest vote.
  • Alan Keyes, has run for U.S. President in 1996, 2000, and 2008. He ran for the U.S. Senate from Maryland in 1988, 1992, and, in 2004, against Barack Obama in Illinois.
  • Luther Devine Knox, a Louisiana Democrat, sought several Louisiana offices between 1963 and 1999, never winning, and only coming close once (his first election, losing to Lantz Womack by 18 votes). By the 1980s, Knox had legally changed his name to "none of the above" because of his desire for voters to have that option on their ballots.
  • Lyndon LaRouche, a fringe political figure, ran for president of the United States in eight elections, beginning in 1976. He ran once as a U.S. Labor Party candidate and seven times as a Democrat. In 1992, he campaigned while in federal prison. Many of his followers have also run for office repeatedly, including Sheila Jones and Elliott Greenspan, both of whom made eight campaigns for a variety of offices.
  • Andy Martin (also known as Anthony Martin-Trigona), a journalist and self-described consumer advocate has run for several local, state and federal offices dating back to at least 1977, including two runs for president and six runs for Senate. He has run as a Democrat, a Republican and as an independent.
  • Eugene McCarthy,[citation needed] Senator from Minnesota, though successful in multiple campaigns for the U.S. Congress, was a perennial presidential candidate. He ran for the Presidency five times, in 1968, 1972, 1976, 1988, and 1992. He tried (unsuccessfully) for the Democratic Presidential nomination in three of those years (1968, 1972, and 1992), and ran as an Independent in the other two years.
  • Mike the Mover, who was born Michael Shanks but legally changed his name, has run for public office in Washington state more than 17 times to help promote his furniture moving business.
  • Mark Neumann, a former Republican congressman from Wisconsin. He ran for Congress unsuccessfully several times in the 1990s, finally winning election in 1994. Since then, he has gone on to lose a Senate general election in 1998, a gubernatorial primary election in 2010, and a Senate primary election in 2012.
  • Jim Oberweis,[citation needed] Illinois dairy magnate, unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2004, Illinois Governor in 2006, and U.S. Representative in the Illinois 14th district in 2008 in the special election to replace retiring Dennis Hastert as well as in the November election. In his fifth attempt at elected office, he succeeded at winning a seat in the Illinois Senate in November 2012. He is currently the 2014 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.
  • Merrill K. Riddick, ran for Montana governor in 1968, U.S. Congress in 1972, and was a presidential candidate in 1976, 1980, and 1984, but never won an election.
  • Jack E. Robinson, a Republican turned Independent who has unsuccessfully run in Massachusetts for United States Senate in 2000 and 2010, Secretary of the Commonwealth in 2002, United States Congress in 2006.
  • Jim Rogers, an Oklahoma Democrat notorious for his secrecy and almost complete lack of campaigning, has run for the state's two U.S. senate seats every election since 2002; he also ran in the 2012 Oklahoma Democratic presidential primary, finishing in third place with 15% of the vote.
  • Joe Schriner, a journalist, ran for President as an independent in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.
  • Harold Stassen is perhaps the most famous and distinguished perennial presidential candidate in U.S. history, along with Ralph Nader. A one-time Governor of Minnesota and former President of the University of Pennsylvania, he ran for the Republican nomination for President twelve times between 1944 and 2000. While Stassen was considered a serious candidate in 1944, 1948 and 1952, his persistent attempts were increasingly met with derision and then amusement as the decades progressed. He also ran in 10 other races for lower offices.
  • Glen H. Taylor, a Democrat known as "The Singing Cowboy," ran for Congress in Idaho seven times (1938, 1940, 1942, 1944, 1950, 1954 and 1956). His 1944 Senate run was his only successful campaign. Taylor was also the Progressive Party vice presidential nominee in 1948.
  • Randall Terry is an anti-abortion activist who has run for numerous positions in the national and state governments, including President. He is notorious for getting glitterbombed by candidate Vermin Supreme at the 2012 lesser known Democratic Presidential debate.
  • Norman Thomas was the Socialist Party's candidate for President of the United States on six occasions from 1928 to 1948 inclusive. Unlike most other perennial candidates, Thomas influenced American politics to a considerable degree with many of his policies being appropriated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.
  • Jeffrey C. Thomas a physician and former Janesville, Wisconsin city council member, lost 4 consecutive races for Wisconsin's 1st Congressional seat between 2000 and 2008, losing all four times to the same candidate, incumbent Paul Ryan.
  • Henning A. Blomen tried unsuccessfully to become Governor of Massachusetts 14 times.



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