Presidential candidate and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is challenging President Barack Obama’s bid for a second term from the left -- and he intends to be on the ballot in Florida.
First elected mayor of Salt Lake City in 2000 as a Democrat after a failed congressional bid in 1996, Anderson was in office when his hometown hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002. When Anderson ran for a second term in 2004, he had the backing of the man who had served as president and CEO of the organizing committee for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City -- then-Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. During his terms as mayor, Anderson garnered national attention for opposing American military intervention in Iraq and calling for the impeachment of then-President George W. Bush. Anderson also led the successful fight in Salt Lake City against banning same-sex marriage in that city.
Following his tenure in office, Anderson was active in humans rights issues and grew increasingly critical of Obama over taxes, drug legalization, international policy and gay rights. Anderson unveiled a new political organization -- the Justice Party -- which he is using as his major campaign vehicle. A number of prominent figures -- including consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader -- have backed Anderson.
Anderson also sought the backing of Americans Elect and garnered more supporters than any other active candidate for that organization’s presidential nomination, with the exception of former Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana. In May, Americans Elect announced they would not nominate any presidential candidates in the 2012 election cycle.
While Anderson is not listed as a presidential candidate with the state Division of Elections, his team told Sunshine State News on Tuesday that his campaign is making efforts in Florida.
“There is no reason to think we won’t be on the ballot in November,” said Walter Mason, the national field director of the Justice Party. Mason added that Florida was “one of the easiest states” to gain ballot access for a presidential candidate as long as a party was backing the person.
Mason said that the Anderson campaign and the Justice Party would be continuing their organizational efforts in Florida and emphasized the need for party building.
“One of our goals is to grow the Justice Party in the long term,” Mason insisted.
The Anderson campaign expects ballot access to be their chief focus until September. After that time, they expect Anderson to actively campaign across the nation, including hitting Florida.
Still, despite the memories of the impact Nader had in the 2000 presidential election, Obama supporters in Florida do not expect Anderson to have a similar impact. A Democratic strategist based in Florida told Sunshine State News that Anderson had some interesting ideas but did not expect him to be a major factor here as he lacks the name recognition that Nader had and will have a fraction of the resources of Obama and Romney.
Some state parties that backed Nader in 2008 have swung behind Anderson this election cycle, including the New Mexico Independent Party which nominated the former Salt Lake City mayor earlier this month for president. The leadership of the Ecology Party of Florida, which nominated Nader in 2008, informed Sunshine State News that they do not expect to back a presidential candidate in this election cycle.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.