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A Higher Calling for Certain Californians

July 28, 1999

Disenchantment with the electoral process has a long history of spurring to action those outside the political system. Following is a list of Californians who have declared their candidacy for president over the years.

Candidate: Pat Paulsen, Orange County.

Call to action: At the suggestion of Tom and Dick Smothers, he declared himself a candidate as a means of parodying political campaigns. A comedian, he claimed to represent the STAG Party--Straight Talking American Government.

Election years: Every election year from 1968 to 1996.

Candidate: Eldridge Cleaver, San Francisco.

Call to action: A former Black Panther leader who was once branded "the nation's greatest threat" by FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover, he ran for president to call attention to the plight of African Americans in white America.

Election year: 1968.

Candidate: John Schmitz, Corona del Mar.

Call to action: A community college teacher and national director of the John Birch Society, he replaced George Wallace as the American Party's candidate. A Wisconsin native, his slogan was, "When you're out of Schmitz, you're out of gear."

Random fact: His daughter is Mary Kay Schmitz Letourneau, the schoolteacher who is serving time for sleeping with her 13-year-old student.

Election year: 1972.

Candidate: Tennie Rogers, Arcadia.

Call to action: Incensed at the new California law mandating automobile insurance, this 64-year-old grandmother "decided to go straight to the top" by declaring her candidacy for president after failing to insure her car, ending up in an accident and having her license suspended for one year.

Election year: 1992.

Candidate: Joan Jett Blakk, San Francisco.

Call to action: Nominated by the gay-activist group Queer Nation, Blakk once told Advocate magazine, "We're puttin' the camp back in campaign," and "I'm the only candidate who can successfully skirt all the issues." At the Democratic Convention, she came dressed in an American flag dress, 7-inch platform heels and a tricolored hair bow.

Election year: 1992.

Candidate: Diane Templin, Escondido.

Call to action: Inspired by the film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Templin had dreamed of being president since the late '70s but delayed her candidacy to raise a 2-year-old daughter. She was a lawyer when she sought the presidential nomination of Ross Perot's Reform Party.

Election year: 1996.

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