Seems like this one flew under the radar. People in my family campaigned for him in 1980.
John Anderson, Who Ran Against Reagan and Carter in 1980, Is Dead at 95
By ADAM CLYMERDEC. 4, 2017
John B. Anderson, a former Republican congressman from Illinois who bolted his party to run as a plain-spoken independent candidate for president in 1980, drawing an enthusiastic if transient following among liberals and college students, died on Sunday night in Washington. He was 95.
His death was confirmed by his daughter Diane Anderson.
The United States was struggling with a recession, a severe energy crisis and the protracted Iranian hostage crisis when Mr. Anderson gave up a safe seat in the House of Representatives to seek the Republican presidential nomination. When that try fizzled, he reintroduced himself as an independent, honest-dealing alternative to the rancorous business-as-usual politics of the major parties.
For a while he had the national spotlight, a 58-year-old maverick whose white hair, horn-rimmed glasses and clearheaded presentation gave him the air of a genial professor who was not so much above the fray as he was unwilling to play by its rules.
Mr. Anderson refused to pander, telling voters in Iowa that he favored President Jimmy Carter’s embargo on grain sales to the Soviet Union after it had invaded Afghanistan. He called for a gasoline tax of 50 cents per gallon — when a gallon cost $1.15 — to save energy.
Early on, when all six of his rivals for the Republican nomination assured the Gun Owners of New Hampshire that they firmly opposed gun control legislation, Mr. Anderson said, “I don’t understand why.”
“When in this country we license people to drive automobiles,” he added, “what is so wrong about proposing that we license guns to make sure that felons and mental incompetents don’t get ahold of them?”
He was roundly booed.
His backers promoted his campaign style as “the Anderson difference,” but despite it — or perhaps because of it — he never finished better than second in a Republican primary. That came in Illinois, his home state, which he had expected to win. When he did not, losing to Ronald Reagan by fewer than 12 points (Mr. Reagan was born in Illinois), he decided to run as an independent.
Drawing support from moderate to liberal Republicans and liberal Democrats and finding a receptive audience on college campuses, Mr. Anderson did well in the polls at the start. At one point, upward of one-fifth of voters said they preferred him to the major party nominees, Mr. Reagan and Mr. Carter, the Democrat, who was seeking re-election. Mr. Anderson peaked in June, when he was the choice of 24 percent of respondents in a Gallup poll, 25 percent in a Harris/ABC poll and 18 percent in a New York Times/CBS News poll.
His hopes were sustained by the volatility of the 1980 campaign, with its sudden swings of popularity. Mr. Carter’s Democratic challenger, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, led by large margins in early polls, only to see the president recover and defeat him soundly in the primaries.
Mr. Reagan, the early Republican favorite, spent money lavishly, but lost to George Bush in the Iowa caucuses and trailed in national polls before a solid win in New Hampshire put him back on the road to the nomination. Mr. Anderson said he believed that the tide might turn in his favor in “the climactic phase of the campaign.”
So he pushed on, calling Mr. Carter a “mean and evasive” campaigner who used a recession and high unemployment to fight inflation, and criticizing Mr. Reagan’s campaign “one-liners,” calling them “slick and simplistic.”
Representative John Anderson opened his California campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on April 7, 1980, with a news conference at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. He later ran for the White House as an independent. Credit Associated Press
But in a pattern familiar to independent candidates, Mr. Anderson’s support drifted as voters turned to candidates who they believed could actually win the White House. On Election Day, when Mr. Reagan won in a landslide, Mr. Anderson ended up with 6.6 percent of the popular vote.
Mr. Anderson was perceived as the most liberal of the three contenders. That label probably fit on social issues like abortion, but his economic views were traditionally conservative. He preferred to think of himself as the moderate in the race — a self-description that reflected a marked political evolution.
In his first three years in the House, starting in 1961, Mr. Anderson, a former prosecutor and a decorated World War II veteran, received a zero rating from the liberal group Americans for Democratic Action. Not long after entering the Capitol, he proposed a constitutional amendment declaring that “this nation devoutly recognizes the authority and law of Jesus Christ, Savior and Ruler of nations.”
The measure never came to a vote, and he later apologized for it.
Though his views began to moderate, he was still conservative enough in 1969 for the Republicans to elect him chairman of the House Republican Conference, the third-ranking leadership position. He held the post through 1979, though not without fighting off challenges from the right. By then, the A.D.A. had put his voting record in the mid-40s, and he had harshly criticized President Richard M. Nixon, a fellow Republican, over his handling of the Watergate scandal. His own critics called Mr. Anderson self-righteous and preachy.
Mr. Anderson was an effective orator in the days when speeches on the House floor could still change votes. He was a leader in the passage of open housing legislation in 1968 and in setting campaign contribution limits in 1974, and he worked with his Democratic friend, Morris K. Udall of Arizona, to create 10 national parks in Alaska, protecting 100 million acres.
But he grew increasingly impatient not only with the House but also with the growing strength of the right wing of his own party.
“Extremist fringe elements,” he complained in 1977, “seek to expel the rest of us from the G.O.P.” He warned, “If the purists stage their ideological coup d’état, our party will be consigned to the historical junk heap.”
The right returned the compliment with a strong Republican primary campaign against him in his 1978 House race. With the help of Democratic crossover votes, Mr. Anderson won with 58 percent over the insurgent, Don Lyon, a conservative minister. But he resented the challenge, and his thoughts turned to the White House.
It was always a long-shot campaign. Few elected officials endorsed him. His Republican campaign, announced in June 1979, drew little support as Mr. Bush emerged as the only viable alternative to Mr. Reagan (who wound up choosing Mr. Bush as his running mate).
For his independent run, announced in April 1980, Mr. Anderson had to spend millions to get on the ballot in all 50 states as the National Unity Party candidate, leaving little cash for television advertising. (His running mate was Patrick J. Lucey, a former Democratic governor of Wisconsin.) And when Mr. Carter refused to join him in a September debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters — the president, it was said, did not want to be perceived as taking Mr. Anderson’s candidacy seriously — Mr. Anderson’s last and best chance of making an impact was snuffed out.
The debate went ahead without the president, but Mr. Reagan gained more from it than Mr. Anderson did. When Mr. Anderson’s poll standing slipped below 15 percent, the league did not invite him back for an October debate, the only one between Mr. Carter and Mr. Reagan, for whom it was a turning point.
“We had operated from the very beginning with the assumption that it was a given that Jimmy Carter could not be re-elected,” Mr. Anderson told a conference at the Institute of Politics at Harvard weeks after the election. His hope, he added, was that with the collapse of the Carter campaign, he could emerge “as a rational and reasonable alternative to Ronald Reagan.”
To the frequent accusation that he had been a spoiler in the race, he replied: “What’s to spoil? Spoil the chances of two men at least half the country doesn’t want?”
John Bayard Anderson was born on Feb. 15, 1922, in Rockford, Ill., a son of Swedish immigrants, E. Albin Anderson and the former Mabel Edna Ring. As a boy he worked in the family’s grocery store and was the valedictorian of his class at Rockford Central High School.
He earned bachelor’s and law degrees at the University of Illinois and a master of laws at Harvard. In World War II he earned four battle stars as a staff sergeant in the field artillery in Europe and later worked in the Foreign Service in Berlin and Washington, where he met Keke Machakos, a passport photographer. They married in 1953. Returning to Illinois, he was elected state’s attorney for Winnebago County in 1956.
In addition to his daughter Diane, he is survived by his wife; three other daughters, Eleanora van der Wal, Karen Moree and Susan Anderson; a son, John Jr.; and 11 grandchildren.
He left Congress so he could seek the presidency in 1980, then considered another presidential run in 1984 but ended up supporting Mr. Reagan’s Democratic challenger, Walter F. Mondale, the former vice president. He backed Ralph Nader’s third-party run in 2000 and disapproved of the Tea Party movement, telling The New Yorker in 2010, “I break out in a cold sweat at the thought that any of those people might prevail.”
Mr. Anderson had homes in Rockford as well as in Washington, where he practiced intellectual property law, and in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he taught law for many years at Nova Southeastern University. He served as president of the World Federalist Association, which promotes international cooperation, and chairman of FairVote, a nonprofit group that favors ranked-choice voting.
Mr. Anderson was the author of “Between Two Worlds: A Congressman’s Choice” (1970); “The American Economy We Need” (1984) and “A Proper Institution: Guaranteeing Televised Presidential Debates” (1988).
The most enduring impact of his 1980 independent campaign came in the courts, where his victories enabled later third-party candidates like H. Ross Perot and Mr. Nader to get on the ballot. Most important was a ruling by the United States Supreme Court in 1983 that threw out Ohio’s filing deadline of March 20 for independent candidates. (Mr. Anderson had not decided to run as an independent that early in 1980, but got on the ballot when a Federal District Court ordered Ohio to let him run.)
Ohio defended its deadline as a way to maintain “political stability.” But the Supreme Court accepted Mr. Anderson’s argument that states could not impose substantially more onerous burdens on independent candidates than on major party nominees.
Though Mr. Anderson’s candidacy had little impact on the outcome of the 1980 election, his campaign was memorable for its candor. Appearing in Des Moines with six rivals for the Republican nomination, Mr. Anderson was alone among them in saying something specific when asked if there was anything in his career he would take back if he could.
“It would have been the vote that I cast in favor of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution,” he said, referring to the 1964 congressional measure that gave President Lyndon B. Johnson license to widen the war against North Vietnam.
He was equally forthright in defending his call for an emergency excise tax on gasoline, unpopular though it might have been.
“I did it as a security measure, to be sure,” he told the September 1980 debate audience, “because I would rather see us reduce the consumption of imported oil than have to send American boys to fight in the Persian Gulf.”
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver