Looking at some election results the other day, my eyes fell down to the bevy of extraneous parties that litter the floor of many states' presidential totals. While most are wholly uninteresting, one caught my eye: the Prohibition Party.
Yes, it's actually a thing. Digging around, I quickly came to its Wikipedia page, and the story of this party is quite hilarious.
Around since 1872, it's the third longest-lived party behind today's two major parties. Its heydey was 1904, when it garnered 258,596 prudish votes in that year's presidential election. After years of declining interest, it had one last gasp in 1948 with 103,489 votes, then fell into irrelevancy. Its 2012 presidential ticket, nominated at the Holiday Inn Express in Cullman, Alabama, won all of 519 votes, about 500 of them likely jokesters.
In 1920, the party boasted the governor of Florida and a California congressman, but that was it until 2002, when the party won the Thompson Township (PA) tax assessor race. That guy, James Hodges, ran for his party's 2012 presidential nod, but lost to Jack Fellure. At the Holiday Inn Express, in Cullman, Alabama.
But not all has been rosy at Prohibition HQ. In 2003, the party was sundered in half as two factions accused the other of mishandling party funds. The party had funds? Who knew! I'll quote the Wikipedia editor on this one:
Notably, Hedges and others claimed that Dodge sold the party's headquarters for $119,500 in 1999 with intent to build on his own property, but that he instead kept the money for himself and moved the headquarters to a tool shed.
It's probably not good for a party's image to be headquartered in a toolshed.
The breakaway faction was headed by Earl Dodge, 5-time presidential candidate, who in total garnered 14,895 votes over that 20-year span. So as you can imagine, he was quite powerful inside his party apparatus. His nominating convention in his living room featured EIGHT delegates. It's not known whether he had to bring in extra folding chairs to accommodate them all. It's likely that his sofa and dining room chairs sufficed.
The two factions fought over ballot access in 2004, which was essentially the right to split 2,084 votes. Dodge got just 140 of those. They also fought bitterly (and legally) over the proceeds of an endowment created by a former supporter way back in 1930. The stakes were high, as the fund paid out EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS every year (cue Mike Myers), none of it spent on their website. Eventually, they agreed to split the proceeds in half.
But a house divided against itself cannot stand, and Dodge wasn't immortal. So when he kicked the bucket, the party rift healed and a newly reborn and financially unified Prohibition Party charged into the 2008 elections and won ... 643 votes.
They should talk to the GOP about rebranding.