1980’s Third Party Candidate John Anderson
Our header shot is of wife Keke putting the last makeup touches on husband John’s presentation for NYC television in 1980.
An Immigrants’ Son
John Bayard Anderson was born on Feb. 15, 1922, in Rockford, Ill., a son of Swedish immigrants, and was the valedictorian of his class at Rockford Central High School. He went on the University of Illinois and got a bachelor’s and law degrees and then 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 Greek national who was working as passport photographer. They married in 1953.
Anderson left Congress so he could seek the presidency in 1980, & considered another presidential run in 1984, but ended up supporting Mr. Reagan’s Democratic challenger, Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota. True to form, he backed Ralph Nader’s third-party run in 2000 but disapproved of the third party 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.”
He had homes in Rockford, Illinois, 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 democracy, world open borders and global government. He was also chairman of FairVote, a nonprofit group that favors ranked-choice voting, a voting method that Australia employs.
The Third Candidate
While Anderson lost in the 1980 elect, his impact came in the courts enabling third-party candidates like H. Ross Perot and Mr. Nader to get on the ballot. This was because of the Scotus 1983 ruling 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. Read the details here.)
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 when asked if there was anything in his career he would recant.
“… 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.
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.” He recanted that too.
Here’s his debate between Anderson and Reagan. Reagan beat him handily and went on to win the general election against incumbent Jimmy Carter.
Congressman Anderson died on December 3, 2017. His wife Keke and their five children survive him. His obit from the Rockford Registar Star is here.