John B. Anderson Dies

On December 3, 2017, John B. Anderson died. He was a member of Congress from 1960 to 1980. In 1980 he sought the Republican presidential nomination, but on April 24, 1980, realizing that Ronald Reagan was certain to become the Republican nominee, Anderson quit the race for the Republican nomination and announced as an independent candidate. He had already participated, or was about to participate, in Republican presidential primaries in 20 states (not including other states where he was a write-in in the primaries, such as Pennsylvania).

He had already missed the filing deadline for independent presidential candidates in Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, and Ohio. He sued all five states and won all those lawsuits. As a result, he got on the ballot in all 50 states plus D.C.

He didn’t choose his vice-presidential running mate until August 27, 1980. He chose Patrick Lucey, former Democratic Governor of Wisconsin. Anderson’s attorneys persuaded almost all states to let his stand-in, Milton Eisenhower, resign, and be replaced by Lucey. He sued three states that wouldn’t permit this, and won all three cases, against Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Only two states didn’t list Lucey; they were states he didn’t get around to suing.

Later his Ohio petition deadline case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed with the U.S. District Court that had struck down the March 20 deadline.

No state kept Anderson off the ballot because of “sore loser” laws. He thus set precedents in many states that sore loser laws don’t apply to president. Unfortunately, starting in 2012, some states started re-interpreting their laws to say that sore loser laws do apply to presidential primaries, even when the laws had not been recodified. Also in recent years, some states that let him substitute Lucey for Eisenhower have started denying the ability for independent presidential candidates to substitute a new nominee. Thus Anderson’s landmark legal victories have been slipping away. Anderson died at the age of 95. Here is a newspaper obituary.


John B. Anderson Dies — 7 Comments

  1. RIP

    Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983)

    Equal as in 14 Amdt, Sec. 1 EQUAL Protection — missing in action.

    Very sorry- BUT ballot access had about zero to do with 1st Amdt speech, press, petition, assemble in 1761-1791.

    See the book — Sources of our Liberties by Richard L. Perry (Am. Bar Assn.,1959 [USA Amdts 1-8 history] — just before the group madness of SCOTUS (and other folks) in the 1960s.

  2. Rest in peace, truly.

    I remember being part of his campaign in Kentucky (where I lived at the time), and hearing about a poll which put him at about 20% overall — and said that, if people had believed he could win, he would have been ahead in a selection of some of the larger states. Wish I had the details — but this was 1980, and even I didn’t have a computer then . . . much less the Internet.

  3. John, the most I ever heard about him polling was at 15 percent nationally, and he was leading in Conn. and Mass. by 2 points over Reagan. On Election Day, there was no county where he placed higher than third.

  4. Michael, thanks for your info. I know his support had dropped off by Election Day, and I don’t think the poll I remember being told about ever made the news publicly. (If so, then-new and maybe idealistic CNN might well have reported it; they did figure a way to include him in Carter-Reagan debates the way Democracy Now! did with Jill Stein last year.) But IIRC, Anderson was a bit over 20% overall; in the middle of the race on the conditional if-you-thought-he-could-win second question; and ahead in those big states with the same condition.

  5. Richard:
    Other than President Carter, do you know how many other Presidential/ Vice Presidential candidates from 1980 OR EARLIER are still alive?

  6. Ed Clark, Maureen Smith, David McReyolds, Andrew Pulley, are all alive, and maybe Deirdre Griswold.

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