William Saturn: Chronicle of the 2016 Reform Party Presidential Race

William Saturn is an IPR contributor. He wrote the following article for Wikinews and republished it on his blog, The Saturnalian, on August 29th, 2016:

The following is adapted from the July 2016 edition of the Wikinews series On the campaign trail.

Reform Party logo

“[T]here was and is a party that was opposed to NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and other unfair trade agreements and which is still deeply committed to the Hamiltonian idea of protecting U.S. jobs and industry as we proceed into the 21st Century”

-Darcy Richardson

Two individuals who each previously spoke withWikinews sought the 2016 presidential nomination of the Reform Party of the United States. Historian Darcy Richardsonand businessman Rocky De La Fuente each decided to seek the nomination in July. Both previously ran for president as Democrats.

Darcy Richardson in 2010.

Richardson, a veteran of third-party politics, challenged President Barack Obama for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2012 and briefly vied for the Reform Party presidential nomination that same year. He is the author of “The Others” anthology, covering third-party candidates, and has written books on such political topics as the 1968 presidential election and the presidential candidacies of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, and recently, Bernie Sanders. He served as campaign manager during McCarthy’s 1988 presidential bid. In addition, he ran for Pennsylvania Auditor General in 1980, and was the Consumer Party’s 1988 nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. In 2010, he ran for Lieutenant Governor of Florida as the running mate of gubernatorial candidateFarid Khavari.  Richardson has a history within the Reform Party beyond his 2012 run. He participated in the party’s 1996 and 2000 mail-in primaries, was part of the 2004 nominating conference calls, donated to candidates nominated by the party, and contributed to the Reform National Committee. Richardson says Reform Party Secretary Nicholas Hensley encouraged him to enter the 2016 race. As the nominee, he planned to spread the party message through television, radio, and speaking engagements.

“In short, my candidacy is designed to remind older folks about the Reform Party’s important role in American politics”, said Richardson, “and to inform younger millennials — those facing a low-paying, if not jobless, future — that there was and is a party that was opposed to NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and other unfair trade agreements and which is still deeply committed to the Hamiltonianidea of protecting U.S. jobs and industry as we proceed into the 21st Century.”

Rocky De La Fuente at the 2016 Lesser-known Candidates Forum. Image by Marc Nozell

De La Fuente, a San Diego businessman with properties throughout the world, got his start in the automobile industry and has since branched into the banking and real estate markets. Before his 2016 Democratic Party campaign for president, he had not sought political office, but did serve as the first-ever Hispanicsuperdelegate, at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. During his 2016 presidential campaign, which he began largely as a reaction to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, De La Fuente qualified for the ballot in 48 Democratic primary contests. In addition to seeking the Reform Party nomination, he is attempting to qualify for the general election ballot in several states as an independent or as the nominee of the new “American Delta Party,” which he founded. De La Fuente is currently running in the Democratic Party primary for U.S. Senate in Florida as well. According to Nicholas Hensley, in remarks to Wikinews, ballot access expertRichard Winger encouraged De La Fuente to seek the Reform Party nomination.

According to Richardson, De La Fuente entered the race a mere 24 hours after he did. Moreover, Richardson distinguished himself from De La Fuente, arguing that while those within the Reform party encouraged him to run, De La Fuente ran at the insistence of “a partisan Libertarian [Winger] […] who personally has little interest in the Reform Party’s current fortunes or its future”, and who sees the Reform Party as “just an available ballot line”.

Thomas Knapp by Liam Millay.

Richardson’s preferred running mate, activist Thomas Knapp, founder of the now-defunct Boston Tea Party, drew an even greater contrast between Richardson and De La Fuente.

“[There were] five states that both Mr. [De La] Fuente [in 2016] and Mr. Richardson [in 2012] appeared on a Democratic primary ballot [in different election cycles] […],” explains Knapp, comparing De La Fuente and Richardson’s Democratic Party candidacies, “Richardson outpolled [De La] Fuente and did so on a budget two full orders of magnitude smaller, even though Richardson was running against a popular incumbent president [Barack Obama] and [De La] Fuente was running against one of the most hated politicians in America [Hillary Clinton].”

“In his presidential campaign so far [De La Fuente] has spent $6.4 million to get 67,000 votes”, Knapp continues. “That’s $95.50 per vote.”

De La Fuente was asked to respond to these statements and to comment on this report, but he has yet to do so.

Ross Perot

Ross Perot

The Reform Party was founded in 1995 by industrialist Ross Perot. Perot ran as the party’s first presidential nominee in 1996, and won over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third-party candidate since. In 1998, professional wrestler Jesse Ventura ran on the Reform Party ticket and was elected Governor of Minnesota. The party fell in prominence during the lead-up to the2000 presidential election when it was plagued by infighting between ideological factions. In 2000, Donald Trump briefly sought the party’s presidential nomination, but it was ultimately won by paleoconservative icon Pat Buchanan, who went on to receive only 0.4% of the popular vote in the general election. In 2004, the party opted to endorse consumer advocateRalph Nader, but ended the year nearly bankrupt. Ted Weill won the party’s 2008 presidential nomination, but appeared on the ballot in only one state and won a total of 481 votes. In 2012, the party’s presidential nominee, fitness model Andre Barnett, on the ballot only in Florida with write-in status elsewhere, received a total of 952 votes. The party is currently on the ballot in New York and Florida, but, according toBallot Access News, the New York affiliate is expected to nominate Trump.

The party held its 2016 convention the last weekend in July. It had planned to formally announce its presidential ticket on August 8. According to Knapp, Richardson and De La Fuente were the two leading contenders for the nomination. Others seeking the nomination included 2012 vice presidential nominee Kenneth Cross and psychologist Lynn Kahn.

Michael Steinberg at the 2016 Lesser-known Candidates Forum. Image by Marc Nozell.

On August 9, the party announced it had nominated De La Fuente for President and presumably, Michael Steinberg, his preferred running mate, for Vice President.  The final tally of the committee showed Kahn with one vote, Cross with one vote, Richardson with four votes, and De La Fuente with five.

10 thoughts on “William Saturn: Chronicle of the 2016 Reform Party Presidential Race

  1. Steven Berson

    Rocky de la Fuente was able to provide the Reform Party with an already existing infrastructure (based on his own personal disposable cash) and the ability to claim a candidate that will likely end up on the ballots of around 25 – 28 States – likely even more than what the Constitution Party will end up with. And on non-interventionist foreign policy and at least giving high priority to lip service for a balanced budget (something both the Clinton and Trump campaigns pretty much ignore) de la Fuente’s published platform is certainly on point to me. I personally disagree with de la Fuente on gun control and what seems to be calls in his platform for potential increases in “stimulus” spending – but aside from his weakness on the 2nd Amendment I don’t really see anything else he is pushing that goes against the Reform Party’s own platform. I’ve also seen that de la Fuente has been actively campaigning, starting to get some earned media with stations that target Spanish speaking audiences – and making some well needed and even potentially important law suits against some States’ oppressive ballot access laws.
    Where as Richardson / Knapp would have likely ended up on the ballot of about 4 States – and I didn’t really ever see an actual publishing of what policies that Richardson was advocating for – aside from attacks on the Johnson/Weld campaign that would be published on this site.
    SO – given that this election cycle for the Reform Party is realistically just an initial stepping stone towards being considered as a reviving third party with actual forward momentum – I’d say the Reform Party being able to show they fielded a candidate with what will end up with either the 4th or 5th most extensive amount of ballot access actually made the most sense for them – and in 2020 they might be able find someone that represents their platform even closer and with greater recognition.

  2. Steven Berson

    … beyond that I’d say good arguments could be made that both Lynn Kahn or Ken Cross made for better fits for the Reform Party nomination than Richardson or de la Fuente did – noting that both Kahn and Crosss were seeking the Reform nomination for way longer – and that it looks like Kahn secured ballot access in a few States for her independent campaign already as well. Kahn’s approach as a policy wonk familiar with working inside of Federal bureaucracy and seeking to aggressively trim off its fat also seems to fit one niche not well represented by other Presidential candidates – although given the general US’s electorates impatience with getting into the weeds details on the issues instead of being fed over-simplified sound bites this likely doesn’t gain much instant popularity. Anyway – all of this is moot now – as de la Fuente is indeed the Reform Party candidate.

  3. Richard Winger

    Before someone writes an article about my motivation, they should talk to me, because then the article would have been more accurate. This article says I am motivated because I am a “partisan Libertarian”. But I have been working for better ballot access since 1965, before there was a Libertarian Party.

    The article says I don’t care about the Reform Party. Actually I donated $3,500 in 1977 to Jack Gargan, the Reform Party candidate for US House in Florida, so he could sue Florida over the short petitioning period to get the signatures of over 12,000 people. I testified in the Reform Party’s winning ballot access case in Arkansas in 1996. I have attended two national conventions of the Reform Party. I testified in the Reform Party’s ballot access case in Florida in 2004, leaving my spouse (who was about to have an operation for acute appendicitis) with just 3 hours advance notice to fly to Tallahassee in the middle of a hurricane, where all the motels required guests to share rooms with strangers because of the shortage of rooms. My testimony was mentioned in the Florida Supreme Court when that court reversed the trial court and put Ralph Nader on the Florida ballot as the Reform Party nominee.

  4. William Saturn


    I mean no disrespect. Like everyone else here, I appreciate all you have done for third parties. Darcy made a comment. It is in quotes. It is not in the article’s voice.

  5. Richard Winger

    Darcy was very helpful to me recently when I was preparing to testify in the Illinois lawsuit over the 5% petition requirement for independent candidates for US House. Darcy is a master of finding old newspaper stories with important information.

    Because he is more than 10 years younger than me, I hope he will be a repository for much of my collection after I die.

  6. Darcy G Richardson

    “Because he is more than 10 years younger than me, I hope he will be a repository for much of my collection after I die.” — Richard Winger

    Well, hopefully I’ll be well into my nineties when that mournful day comes. If we’re lucky, by then we will both have lived through a couple of third-party presidencies, including possibly a Libertarian administration or two.

  7. steve m

    Richard and Darcy,

    It is very cool for having a succession plan in place for such an important role.

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