It’s been circulating recently that outgoing President (now Former President Donald Trump) has been considering trying to start his own third party. The only detail that is known is that he would want it to be called The Patriot Party.
It would not be Donald Trump’s first dalliance with third party politics. In October 1999, on Larry King Live, he announced he was creating a President exploratory committee to run in the Reform Party – encouraged by then-Governor Jesse Ventura, himself a sitting third-party governor. The Reform Party attracted a lot of attention in that cycle, as it had matching funds and established ballot access.
Gov. Ventura first tried to recruit former Connecticut Governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who was elected after running on The Connecticut Party line and then became an Independent after leaving the Governor’s mansion. Trump was the next choice, having publicly flirted with running for office as a Republican despite being a self-described liberal on social issues.
Trump mentioned Oprah Winfrey as his ideal choice for Vice President. Even then, he was enamored of Rudy Guiliani, calling him “the best Mayor in the history of New York City”. Woody Harrellson was reportedly a supporter in 1999, but more recently he told a story about going to dinner with Ventura and Trump later on that was less than glowing.
Trump would go on to win the California Reform Party Presidential Primary over a group of perennial candidates and former Congressman John B. Anderson and the Michigan Reform Party Presidential Primary, facing no opposition.
Donald Trump eventually dropped out of the race, with most commentators speculating he did not feel he could defeat eventual nominee Patrick Buchanan, who ran for the Reform Party despite years of flirting with the then-US Taxpayers Party, which would later become the Constitution Party.
Young politicos and casual observers would be shocked to find that in 1999/2000, Donald Trump was consistently in the news advocating for single-payer healthcare and lambasting Patrick Buchanan for being too close to elements of right-wing or racist fringe.
Time will tell if former President Trump is done with third party politics. Stay tuned.