The Reform Party was the creation of Ross Perot for his 1996 presidential bid in an attempt to make ballot access and organizing a little easier then the previous bid that he made for the White House. Since Perot only ended up with eight percent in the race against Bill Clinton and Bob Dole it appears that the Reform Party has lost any sort of identity. For the 2000 elections they nominated the unabashed paleo conservative Pat Buchanan for President. In 2004 they nominated someone on the complete opposite end of the spectrum with consumer advocate Ralph Nader. The sad thing is that Mr. Buchanan’s candidacy seemed to squash much of the progress in which the Reform Party earned during the 1996 election. Ballot access laws in most states are written in a very restrictive way. In fact they require a party’s nominee to maintain a certain level of support in order for that party to keep their ballot access for the next cycle.
What was once looked at as a possible vehicle for either Jesse Ventura, former pro wrestler/Governor of Minnesota or real estate mogul and media personality Donald Trump to run for President with is now near death as a party. Ventura and Trump both self-described fiscal conservatives were indeed members of the Reform Party at one time. However, they both left the party when they felt that the Buchanan, social conservative groups had gained too much power. They now only had nine states represented at their national convention this month and several state parties walked out in disgust at the way the convention was going. The nomination for the 2008 election of the Reform Party ended up going to a businessman by the name of Ted Weill from Mississippi as noted by the Reform Party USA, but both the Florida and Kansas delegations appear ready to support the candidacy of social conservative activist Chuck Baldwin, the nominee of the Constitution Party and a native Floridian. The Vice Presidential nominee for the Reform Party is California businessman Frank McEnulty. McEnulty has already helped gain ballot access in the state of California as a part of an America First faction in the state of California.
For a party to go from having their candidate on all 50 ballots to probably a maximum of fifteen ballots in twelve years just shows how tough it is for third parties to stay alive in our current political system. I highly doubt we will ever see the level of success that a guy like Ross Perot had and the access to the media that he had unless you have a ton of money. The conversations that Perot had with Larry King in the 1990’s were a great way to advertise yourself to the voters, but sadly that likely won’t be granted to many other candidates in the future.