Shawn O'Hara

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Shawn O'Hara
Personal details
Born(1958-01-06)January 6, 1958
Canton, Mississippi
DiedNovember 23, 2018(2018-11-23) (aged 60)
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Political partyReform
Other political
Alma materWilliam Carey University (B.A, M.A)

Shawn R. O'Hara (January 6, 1958 – November 23, 2018)[1] was an American politician and business consultant who was a perennial candidate for public office in Mississippi. He was the national chairman of the Reform Party, and a frequent candidate on their state ticket. He later became a member of the Democratic Party.[2]

Early life[edit]

O'Hara was born in 1958 in Canton, Mississippi. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from William Carey University in 1981, and received a masters degree from the university in 1996.[3]

Political career[edit]

O'Hara was well known for his frequently running for mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He sought the office in every city election since 1989.[4][5]

O'Hara first ran for Governor of Mississippi in 1991 as the Reform Party candidate. He received 11,253 votes, or 1.58%. He ran as the Reform Party candidate for the United States Senate in Mississippi in 2000.[6] He received 7,315 votes, or 0.74% of the vote. In 2002 he ran for the U.S. Senate again and was the lone challenger to Thad Cochran. He received 97,226 votes, or 15.42%.

While a member of the Reform Party, O'Hara supported the candidacy of George W. Bush. After his party nominated Ralph Nader as presidential candidate in 2004, O'Hara said he hoped Nader could spoil the election: "I’m doing everything I can to make sure John Kerry never gets around the White House."[7] This sentiment, and the fact that O'Hara was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan's Samuel Bowers,[8] and his statements that he had once favored the execution of abortion doctors, put O'Hara odds with other Reform Party members.[9]

In 2003 he was the Reform Party candidate for Governor of Mississippi and received 4,070 votes for 0.46% of the vote. In 2007 O'Hara ran as a Democrat for state treasurer and received 284,789 votes (39.47%).[10] O'Hara sought the Democratic Party nomination for the United States Senate in 2008, however, he was defeated in the primary by Erik R. Fleming 65.8% - 34.2%.[11] O'Hara ran for the seat in Mississippi's 3rd congressional district as a Democrat.[12]

Much to the chagrin of Reform Party members, O'Hara returned to their party in 2011. He announced he would run for governor on their ticket, and also filed to run for state treasurer as both a Democrat and a Reform Party candidate.[13][14] He received 26,290 votes, or 3.01%, in the race for state treasurer.

In Mississippi's 2012 election for U.S. Senate, O'Hara ran as the Reform Party candidate and received 13,194 votes, or 1.06%. He ran for Governor of Mississippi in the 2015 election, finishing last with less than 2% of the vote.

He ran for public office 52 times over his career, including 19 runs for the United States Senate.

Personal life[edit]

O'Hara and his wife, Amanda, had one child, Devon. He was a Southern Baptist.[3]

O'Hara died on November 23, 2018, at his home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict ruled that O'Hara died of natural causes.[15][16]


  1. ^ "O'Hara, Shawn". Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Shawn O'Hara's Biography". Project VoteSmart. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  4. ^ Northway, Wally (May 11, 2009). "Mayoral races throughout the state offer surprises". Mississippi Business Journal. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013.
  5. ^ "Headlines". Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  6. ^ "2000 Congressional Candidates". Secretary of State of Mississippi. 2000-01-14. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  7. ^ "The Reform Party: A Hollow Structure Casting Big Shadow for Nader Campaign" (Press release). Institute for Public Accuracy. 2004-07-19. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  8. ^ LaMasters, Byron (2004-08-30). "Nader in bed with KKK Apologists". Burnt Orange Report. Archived from the original on 2006-06-02. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  9. ^ Janofsky, Michael; Kershaw, Sarah (2004-07-01). "Odd Alliances Form In Efforts to Place Nader on the Ballot". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  10. ^ "Certification of Vote for State Office of State Treasurer" (PDF). Secretary of State of Mississippi.
  11. ^ "2008 Statewide Democratic Primary Results" (PDF). Secretary of State of Mississippi.
  12. ^ Crisp, Elizabeth (2010-03-02). "26 vie to represent Miss. in Congress". Clarion Ledger. p. A5.[dead link]
  13. ^ "In Mississippi, Democrats run in only 5 of 8 state wide races". The Associated Press. 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  14. ^ "2011 Statewide Candidate List". Majority In Mississippi. 2011-03-02. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  15. ^ Mississippi politician Shawn O'Hara dead at age 60
  16. ^ 'Longtime Mississippi politician candidate Shawn O'Hara of Hattiesburg found dead,' 'Hattieburg American, Ellen Ciurczak, November 23, 2018