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An Overview of my Political Career
by William McGaughey
I’m an issues man, a perennial candidate, relatively self-contained and detached from political parties. Of course, I lose but each campaign is an adventure. My platform is whatever is most unpopular. My political home is third parties, especially the one that elected a Governor of Minnesota in 1998. It’s fine with me that a former pro wrestler was elected Governor.
After Jesse Ventura shocked the world, the Reform Party became the Independence Party which settled down to a comfortable centrism - not my cup of tea. Candidates of that party like to say that they’re fiscally conservative and socially liberal. However, that’s the winning combination in politics today. I, by contrast, am fiscally liberal and socially conservative, in a broad sense. I’m against the prevailing stance of both major parties.
As I read the two party system, the Democrats are basically the party of demographic minorities - blacks, women, gays and lesbians, and, to a lesser extent, Asians and Hispanics. The Republicans are the party of economic elites - the bankers, CEOs, medical professionals, fund managers, and other highly paid persons. The opposite side of the coin is that the Democrats tend to disparage straight white males and the Republicans tend to oppose the lazy and less successful working people who deserve to be taxed more heavily than the job-creating rich people. That’s what I wanted to be - someone that neither party would touch with a ten-foot pole.
When I decided to challenge the Independence Party’s endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate in 2002, I carried a sign which read on one side: “I believe the Federal Government should reduce the standard workweek to 32 hours by 2010.” On the other side, it read: “I believe in the full citizenship, dignity and equality of white males (and of everyone else, too).” This two-pronged platform was calculated to offend the Republicans and Democrats respectively. However, it gained me a surprising number of votes from those who voted in the Independence Party primary while this party had a sitting governor. They were still in a fighting mood.
Having caught the political bug, I decided to run for President. Unfortunately, the Independence Party did not have a national organization. George W. Bush was a shoo-in to be renominated by the Republicans in 2004. I therefore filed as a Democrat in the two states - both southern - which had presidential primaries accessible to candidates who paid a filing fee. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terrence McAuliffe, kicked me off the South Carolina ballot. That left Louisiana. Campaigning for five weeks in that state on a platform against free trade, I finished fifth among seven candidates.
The next presidential year, 2008, saw the election of the nation’s first black president. Except for the election ten years earlier, it was also the high-water mark of the Independence Party. I tried and failed to win the party’s endorsement for U.S. Senate and then switched over to becoming the party’s candidate for Congress in the 5th district. With a noncontroversial platform, I gained by far my largest number of votes.
Itching for another meaningful, issues-centered campaign, I campaigned for mayor of Minneapolis in 2009 with a newly formed organization called New Dignity Party that intended to address racial issues from a white-male point of view. Minneapolis was not ready for that kind of discussion. Where in 2008 I had won 22,300 votes in much the same area as a Congressional candidate, my racially-themed mayoral campaign attracted only 230 first-choice votes in the following year.
The political teeter-totter rose back again when a fellow candidate who had also done poorly in the mayoral race ran for Governor of Minnesota in the 2010 Republican primary. He asked me to be his Lieutenant Governor running mate, promising to ask nothing of me in the campaign and pay my filing fee. Why not? The result was that our ticket finished second in the primary with nearly 10,000 votes. We were “progressive Republicans” fighting a conservative trend.
In 2011, my wife filed for divorce and had me arrested for domestic abuse. People had long been urging me to run for a more realistic office. Still courting unpopularity, I ran a short campaign for state representative in my area, identifying myself as someone who had been arrested for domestic abuse. When the family-court judge ruled heavily against me in the divorce case, I dropped out of the race to work on filing an appeal. The bad news was that I received only 79 votes in the primary election, among the worst vote totals in the state; the good news, that despite having withdrawn from the race I came within 20 votes of winning.
In summary, I have little idea what makes a successful campaign. One year I am up, and the next year down; and vice versa. I often do poorly in districts where I am better known. There’s no room for ego in that kind of environment.
In 2014, I broached the subject of running for Governor with the Independence Party on a platform of judicial reform but was told that I myself had admitted that I could not win as a solo candidate and so was “unqualified”. The party’s executive committee insisted on vetting candidates who could seek endorsement at the convention, preferably ones other than “50-year-old white males” the party chairman declared. Later that year, the Independence Party failed to gain the necessary 5 percent of the vote in a statewide race to retain major-party status.
While a political junkie should never say “never” to running for office, I think I am done with electoral politics except for the memories now to be shared with you.
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Bill McGaughey, with neighbors, upon being elected an area representative to the board of Harrison Neighborhood Association in Minneapolis on June 18, 2017. When the photo was taken, he had not cut his hair in eight months. McGaughey had been an area representative in 2011 but he was kicked off the board when he pointed out perceived misdeeds of staff to the group's funders. See "Wastrel neighborhood association votes whistle-blower off its board".
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