Welcome now Peter Camejo to that long line of the most obscure political figures in American history. He joins Winona LaDuke, Ezola Foster, Curtis LeMay, Fielding Wright and Glen Taylor, among others.
Who, you may well ask unless you keep up with political news, is Peter Camejo? He is the California investment adviser whom Ralph Nader has chosen to be his running mate in seeking the Green and Reform parties' presidential nominations for this fall.
And who, you may also ask, are all those other people? They were Third Party vice presidential candidates, perhaps the most thankless role in our electoral politics. Third Parties serve the vital role of introducing new ideas into the political mix and — rarely — influencing an election as a spoiler, as Ross Perot (running mate: James Stockdale) did in 1992 with deficit and debt reduction and likely costing the first President Bush reelection.
LaDuke and Foster? How soon we forget. LaDuke was Nader's running mate in 2000 and Foster was on the Reform ticket with Pat Buchanan.
Curtis LeMay ran with George Wallace in the Alabama governor's surprisingly strong — 14 percent — Third Party run for the presidency in 1968.
When Strom Thurmond died at 100 last December, much was made in the obsequies of his 1948 run for the presidency as a Dixiecrat. No mention at all was made of his running mate, Mississippi Gov. Fielding Wright. In that same election, Glen Taylor and Tucker Smith ran as the vice presidential candidates of two of the great names of the American left, Progressive Henry Wallace and Socialist Norman Thomas.
The most successful — depending how you define success — Third Party candidacy this century was Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose run in 1916. With 27 percent of the vote, he dethroned his erstwhile fellow Republican, President Taft, and effectively elected Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt's running mate was named Hiram Johnson.
If history is true to form, Nader will get whomped this fall — he got slightly less than 3 percent of the vote in 2000 — and Camejo will disappear into the footnotes.