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A perennial candidate is a political candidate who frequently runs for an elected office but rarely or never wins. The term is not generally extended to incumbent politicians who successfully defend their seats repeatedly.
Perennial candidates can vary widely in nature. Some are independents who lack the support of the major political parties in an area or are members of alternative parties (such as "third parties" in the United States). Others may be mainstream candidates who can consistently win a party's nomination, but because their district is gerrymandered or a natural safe seat for another party, the candidate likewise never gets elected (thus these types are often paper candidates). Still others may typically run in primary elections for a party's nomination and lose repeatedly. Numerous perennial candidates, although not all, run with the full knowledge of their inability to win elections and instead use their candidacy for satire, to advance non-mainstream political platforms, or to take advantage of benefits afforded political candidates (such as campaign financing and television advertising benefits).
- Charles Bellchambers contested the Division of Barton six times between 1966 and 1987, usually polling a negligible proportion of the vote.
- Alex Bhathal, a social worker, has unsuccessfully stood for the Greens in the Division of Batman six times between 2001 and 2017, increasing the Greens' percentage of the vote from 4.60% in 1998 to 39.49% in 2017 (she did not stand in 2007).
- Ben Buckley, a farmer, has unsuccessfully contested Gippsland in the House of Representatives on 11 occasions. He first contested the seat in 1984, and has contested every election since 2001. An independent on six occasions, Buckley ran as a One Nation candidate in 2004, and has run as a Liberal Democrat in the past four elections (2008, 2010, 2013, and 2016). His best result came in 2010, when he polled 5.52% of the vote.
- Shirley de la Hunty (née Strickland), a multiple Olympic gold medallist in athletics, unsuccessfully contested six state elections in Western Australia and seven federal elections. Her candidacies spanned from 1971 to 1996, and included runs for the lower and upper houses at both state and federal level. She stood a number of times for the Australian Democrats, while the rest of her runs were made as an independent candidate.
- Teresa van Lieshout, a resident of Perth, has unsuccessfully contested seven state and federal elections standing for various constituencies in Western Australia. She has stood for the Parliament of Western Australia as a One Nation candidate at the 2005 election, and as an independent at the 2006 Victoria Park by-election, 2013 state election, and 2014 Vasse by-election. For Federal Parliament, she ran as an independent at the 2004 election and 2014 special senate election, and as a Protectionist candidate at the 2013 election. In August 2015, she announced she would be contested an eighth election, the 2015 Canning by-election. Teresa stood for the Senate in NSW in the 2016 Federal Election, and as an independent in the 2018 Batman By Election.
Due to the complex and intricate political system in Brazil concerning political parties, there are more than 30 political parties. In this scenario, it is very useful to have hopeless candidates who can make a good number of votes and beef up the overall votes count of a party (or alliance). As a consequence, there are thousands of small perennial candidates for local elections around the country, whose sole purpose is helping others get elected, then ask for a job in the elected government structure.
- Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ran for President of Brazil in 1989, 1994 and 1998, ranking second votes on each occasion. He ultimately won by landslide in 2002, and was reelected in 2006.
- José Maria Eymael, a fringe political figure, ran for the Presidency four times (1998, 2006, 2010 and 2014); he failed to reach 1% of the votes in any of those. He also unsuccessfully ran for mayor of São Paulo in 1985 and 1992, though he won two terms on the lower house of the National Congress of Brazil, from 1987 to 1995.
- Rui Costa Pimenta, leader and founder of the Trotskyist Workers' Cause Party, ran for the Presidency in 2002, 2010 and 2014 (his candidacy in 2006 was blocked by the Superior Electoral Court). He has placed last in all his runs, with his best performance being 0.04% of votes in 2002.
- Vera Guasso, labor union leader and member of the Unified Socialist Workers Party (PSTU), ran for the Porto Alegre city assembly, mayor of Porto Alegre, the Brazilian Senate and other positions in a non-stop serial candidacy (every two years) from the early 90s on. In her best results, she had numbers of votes in local Porto Alegre elections similar to those of lesser-voted elected candidates, but did not get a seat due to her party's overall voting being small. PSTU traditionally enters elections with no visible chance to, allegedly, "put a leftist set of points in discussion" and "build the party" but has lately achieved some expressive numbers.
- Michael Baldasaro of the pro-marijuana Church of the Universe has run on numerous occasions for positions at various levels.
- Douglas Campbell has run as a fringe candidate for the House of Commons in the 1960s, the leadership of both the Ontario and federal New Democratic Party in the 1970s and 1980s, and Mayor of North York, Ontario. He ran for Mayor of Toronto in 2000, 2003 and 2006.
- Ross Dowson, leader of the Canadian Trotskyist group the Revolutionary Workers Party (later the League for Socialist Action) ran for Mayor of Toronto nine times in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. His best result was in 1949 when he won 20% of the vote in a two-man race. He also ran twice for the House of Commons of Canada.
- Terry Duguid is a Manitoba politician who has run multiple times for city council, mayor and MP in Winnipeg. He lost the 1995 Winnipeg Civic election, and lost the 2004 and 2006 federal election in Kildonan St-Paul before running and losing in Winnipeg South in 2011. He ran again in 2015, winning the seat with 58% of the vote.
- Henri-Georges Grenier ran 13 times for the House of Commons of Canada between 1945 and 1980 on the tickets of a variety of political parties, for each of which he was the sole candidate.
- Ben Kerr, a street musician, ran for Mayor of Toronto seven times between 1985 and his death in 2005. He was best known for his country music performances and for advocating the medicinal benefits of drinking a concoction that has cayenne pepper as its main ingredient.
- Patricia Métivier contested 24 Canadian federal, provincial or municipal elections from 1972 to 2001.
- David Popescu has run for federal, provincial and municipal office multiple times since 1998 on an extreme anti-abortion and anti-homosexual platform. While campaigning in the 2008 election, he advocated the execution of homosexuals, which precipitated charges under Canada's hate crime laws.
- Naomi Rankin ran for the Communist Party of Canada in 2008, her eighth attempt at becoming an MP. She has also run six times for the Communist Party of Alberta, all of which were also unsuccessful.
- Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec, has run nine times between 2012 and 2018 for provincial general elections and by-elections.
- John Turmel is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the candidate who has the "most elections contested" and lost 84 as of August 2015 (he also ran in a by-election canceled due to a general election).
- Harry Bradley ran for the Toronto Board of Control 24 times between 1930 and 1964. He also ran for mayor in 1960 and 1962, and for city council in 1969.
- Kevin Clarke is a homeless person who has unsuccessfully contested municipal, provincial and federal office in Toronto numerous times from the 1990s to the present, often as leader of The People's Political Party.
- Régent Millette is a teacher in Quebec who has run for public office at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels over 25 times since the year 2000
- Don Woodstock of Winnipeg has contested several positions at all three levels of government. He unsuccessfully ran for provincial seats in 2007 and 2011 as a Liberal, and in 2016 as an independent. He ran federally in 2015 as a Green candidate, and received national attention after being called a "son of a bitch" by NDP incumbent Pat Martin during a televised debate. Woodstock ran for city council in 2014 and is running as a mayoral candidate in the 2018 election.
- Horacio Serpa Uribe, three-times Liberal Party´s presidential candidate (1998, 2002, 2006).
- Antanas Mockus, two-times presidential candidate (2006, 2010), one-time vicepresidential candidate (1998).
- Noemí Sanín, three-times Conservative Party´s presidential candidate (1998, 2002, 2010).
- Álvaro Gómez Hurtado, three times Conservative Party´s presidential candidate (1974, 1986, 1990).
- Enrique Peñalosa, five-times Bogotá´s mayor candidate (1994, 1997, 2007, 2011, 2015), one time senatorial candidate (2006), one time presidential candidate (2014).
- Jana Bobošíková is known for a series of unsuccessful candidatures in various elections. She unsuccessfully ran two times for President of the Czech Republic (2008 and 2013), the Chamber of Deputies (2010 and 2013), the Senate (2010 and 2012), Mayor of Prague (2010) and general manager of Czech Television (2009).
- Petr Hannig is the leader of Party of Common Sense. Since 2002, he has repeatedly run for the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. He also ran for Czech presidency in 2018 election., but failed as well, ending last but one with 0,57% of votes.
- Miroslav Sládek ran for the Czechoslovak presidency in 1992. After dissolution of Czechoslovakia he sought the Czech presidency in 1993, 1998 and 2018. He withdrawn from 2018 election due to failure of his party in the 2017 legislative election.
- Jan Švejnar unsuccessfully ran for Czech presidency in 2008. He also ran for the position in 2013 but withdrew. He planned to run for the office in 2018 but he didn't receive political support. Some politicians noted that Švejnar lives in the United States and "shows up in the Czech Republic only when there is a presidential election."
- Arlette Laguiller, leader of the Workers' Struggle, a Trotskyist party, has been a candidate for President six times (1974, 1981, 1988, 1995, 2002 and 2007).
- Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, has been a candidate for President five times (1974, 1988, 1995, 2002 [in which he unprecedentedly finished second in the first round of voting, proceeding to the second round of voting which he lost to the incumbent, Jacques Chirac], and 2007).
- Ástþór Magnússon is an Icelandic businessman and politician who unsuccessfully campaigned for the post of President of Iceland five times; in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2012 and 2016.
- Hotte Paksha Rangaswamy was a political leader from the Indian state of Karnataka, who had a penchant for contesting elections. He is a Guinness World Record holder for having contested the highest number of elections - he unsuccessfully did so 86 times.
- Kaka Joginder Singh (alias Dharti Pakad meaning "one who clings to the ground", earned after several unsuccessful runs for President of India) was a textile owner who contested and lost over 300 elections in India. Although his nomination papers were usually disregarded by the election commission, he reached his high-water mark during the 1992 presidential election, in which he earned fourth place in the polling with 1,135 votes, eventually losing to Shankar Dayal Sharma.
- Dr K Padmarajan a doctor turned politician from the state of Tamil Nadu, had contested 199 elections and lost all of them. Limca book of records named him as "India's most unsuccessful candidate".
- Mohsen Rezaee (see Electoral history of Mohsen Rezaee) ran for president 3 times, in 2005, 2009 and 2013. He was defeated twice and withdrew once. Rezaee ran for an Iranian Parliament seat once in 2000.
- Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (see Electoral history of Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf) ran for president 3 times, in 2005, 2013 and 2017. He was defeated twice and withdrew once.
- Seán Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus, a longtime member of Dublin City Council (1974–1999), stood in 14 elections for Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament, between 1961 and 1997. He was only elected once, in 1981, and served as a TD for just 8 months. He also stood unsuccessfully in two elections to the European Parliament.
- Satoshi Akao ran in numerous elections for his Great Japan Patriotic Party until 1989, one year prior to his death.
- Mac Akasaka, real name Makoto Tonami, was a candidate for many political offices, especially governor of Tokyo 2012, 2016 and mayor of Osaka in 2014.
- Yūtokutaishi Akiyama, an engraver artist, photographer, was a candidate for Governor of Tokyo 1975 and 1979, bringing pop art into the process.
- Teruki Gotō was a candidate for Mayor of Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo (2013), City Assembly of Chiyoda (2015), and the Governor of Tokyo (2016).
- Hideyoshi Seizo Hashiba ran in numerous elections from 1976 to 2011.
- Mitsuo Matayoshi (alias Jesus Matayoshi), leader of the World Economic Community Party and self-proclaimed Messiah, has run in at least nine local and national elections since 1997.
- Yoshiro Nakamatsu (alias Dr. NakaMats), inventor and perennial candidate in Tokyo, has unsuccessfully campaigned to be elected Governor of Tokyo numerous times since 1995, most recently in 2014.
- Raila Odinga leader of Orange Democratic Movement has been in the ballot five times—1997, 2007, 2013 and 2017 (both times) Kenya's presidential elections. Prior to that and under the old Kenyan Constitution, Raila was a Member of Parliament for the Lang'ata Constituency which includes Kenya's most impoverished and largest slum. Raila who is referred to as 'Baba' by his followers mostly from his Luo community has never conceded defeat and always claims that the elections were rigged in favor of the winning candidates. Such Claims after the 2007 Kenya Elections led to the 2007–08 Kenyan crisis witnessed in Kenya in early 2008 that left over 1,300 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
- Nicolás Zúñiga y Miranda was a presidential candidate 10 times: 1892, 1896, 1900, 1904, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1920 and 1924 and also tried to run for a seat in the Congress of Mexico at least twice. The eccentric Zúñiga never got more than a few votes, but always claimed to have been the victim of fraud and considered himself to be the legitimate President.
- Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas was a presidential candidate three times: 1988, 1994 and 2000, also was elected the first Head of Government of Mexico City in 1997, was leader of PRD, the left-wing mayor party and was Governor of the state of Michoacan.
- Janusz Korwin-Mikke unsuccessfully ran for President five times (1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015).
- Kornel Morawiecki unsuccessfully ran for President three times in 1990, 2010 and 2015, achieving necessary 100,000 signatures to be registered as candidate only in 2010. He also unsuccessfully ran for Sejm in 1991, and for Senate in 2007. Eventually, he succeeded for the first time when he became an MP in 2015.
- Gennady Zyuganov ran for President in 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2012. His biggest score was in 1996, when he gained 40.7% in the second round against Boris Yeltsin.
- Vladimir Zhirinovsky unsuccessfully ran for President of Russia six times: in 1991, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018. In addition unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Belgorod Oblast in 1999. Also, 2 times he participated in the election of the Chairman of the State Duma, in 2003 and 2011, but both times unsuccessfully.
- Lev Ubozhko unsuccessfully participated in elections of different levels. He ran for special election to the Supreme Soviet of Russia in 1992 and 1993. He also ran for the State Duma in 1993, 1995 and 1998 (special election in single-mandate constituency). In 1994, at a special election, he unsuccessfully ran for the Federation Council from the Chelyabinsk Oblast. In 1996, he unsuccessfully ran for Governor of the Chelyabinsk Oblast. He ran for President in 1991 and 1996, but both times he was denied registration.
- Grigory Yavlinsky ran for President in 1996, 2000, 2012 (denied) and 2018.
- Oleg Bulayev about 40 times participated as a candidate in the elections in various regions of the country. For several years he tried to become an MP in North Ossetia, Udmurtia, Sakhalin Oblast, Saratov Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, Ulyanovsk Oblast, Smolensk Oblast, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Kemerovo Oblast, Yakutia, Kalmykia, Chechnya, Vladimir Oblast, Crimea, Mari El, Tatarstan and other regions. In 2013 he was elected as member of the Volgograd City Duma. In 2014 he ran for Governor of Volgograd Oblast, lost the election gaining 2.21%. In 2018 he ran for president, but withdrew.
- Bill Boaks contested general elections and by-elections for a period of 30 years under various descriptions, most famously under the "Public Safety Democratic Monarchist White Resident" banner. Boaks' main concern was public safety on the roads and believed that pedestrians should have the right of way at all times. In the 1982 Glasgow Hillhead by-election he received only five votes, one of the lowest recorded in a modern British parliamentary election. He died in 1986 from injuries sustained in a traffic collision two years earlier.
- Arthur Hunnable's name never appeared on a ballot paper, but he campaigned and announced that he would stand in almost every by-election from 1907 to 1909, and also in Jarrow at the 1918 general election.
- Winston McKenzie, who now stands as an English Democrats candidate, has previously stood since 2002 as an independent candidate in the Brent East by-election and in the 2008 Mayoral election, and for Veritas, UKIP, and founded his own Unity Party.
- David Sutch ran in 39 general elections and by-elections under the name Screaming Lord Sutch for the British House of Commons, and one election for the European Parliament, never winning much more than 1,000 votes. He first ran in 1963 on the National Teenage Party ticket for the seat left vacant by the resignation of John Profumo. He founded the Official Monster Raving Loony Party in 1983 and led it until his suicide in 1999.
- Sutch's successor as Monster Raving Loony Party leader, Alan "Howling Laud" Hope has contested 13 by-elections and five general elections between 2001 and 2016. His highest vote total has been 553, achieved at both Aldershot in the 2005 general election and the 2011 Leicester South by-election. The latter was also his highest vote share of 1.6%. Hope's highest placing in a parliamentary election has been fourth (of eight candidates) in Richmond Park in 2016. Hope has been elected (unopposed) to seats on parish councils in Devon and Hampshire and was mayor of Ashburton.
- John Peck ran in the constituency of Nottingham North from 1955 to 1987 and came last every time, bar 1979, in which he came second last. However, in 1987 he won the Nottingham Council seat of Bulwell East.
- Lindi St Clair ran in numerous elections for her "Corrective Party", on some occasions standing as "Miss Whiplash".
- Richard Huggett contested various elections under banners designed to imitate better-known parties, including as a "Literal Democrat" and a "Conversative" candidate. This eventually resulted in the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 being passed to stop this practice.
- Nigel Farage has stood for election to the British House of Commons seven times, in five general elections and two by-elections, but has been unsuccessful each time. In the most recent election he declined to contest a seat. However he was successful in being elected as a member of the European Parliament.
- William Bryk, New Hampshire attorney formerly resident in New York, has run for multiple offices, including running for the U.S. Senate in 4 states simultaneously in 2014.
- Pasquale Caggiano, seven time candidate for Mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts. Elected on his final attempt, but died three months into his term. He had previously served as a member of the Lynn City Council and the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Unsuccessful Candidate for the United States House of Representatives in Massachusetts's 7th congressional district in 1956, Lieutenant Governor in 1960 and 1962, Governor of Massachusetts in 1964 and the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1968.
- Guy Carbone, a Massachusetts Democrat turned Republican, has run unsuccessfully for Northern District District Attorney in 1978 and 1982, Governor of Massachusetts in 1986, Massachusetts Attorney General in 1990, 1994, and 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, the Massachusetts Senate in 1998, and most recently Selectman, Town of Belmont, Massachusetts. He also ran for governor in 1982 and 1990 before dropping out to pursue another office.
- Mike Causey, a North Carolina Republican, has run for state Insurance Commissioner five times between 1992 and 2016, losing each of the first four times in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2012. In his 2016 campaign, his fifth campaign for the same office, he knocked off incumbent Wayne Goodwin in what was considered to be an upset, given his previous track record and Goodwin's incumbency. In addition to losing all of those statewide races for the same office, Causey has run and lost races for Congress and the state legislature. He's been described as the "Harold Stassen of North Carolina" regarding his continuous statewide losses for the same Council of State office.
- Gatewood Galbraith, a political gadfly known for his outspoken advocacy of civil liberties and legalization of marijuana, ran unsuccessfully for state and federal offices in his home state of Kentucky no fewer than nine times. He ran twice for the U.S. House, once for state agriculture commissioner, once for state attorney general, and five times for governor. His final run for governor ended less than two months before his death in January 2012.
- Althea Garrison, has run unsuccessfully in multiple elections for the Massachusetts General Court, Boston City Council, and Mayor of Boston as a Republican, Democrat, and independent. Served one term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995. She was the first transgender or transsexual person to be elected to a state legislature in the United States.
- Calvin H. Gurley, an accountant who has run for elected office in the District of Columbia in ten different elections between 1986 and 2016
- Robert Hagopian, ran unsuccessfully for public office in Hamilton, Massachusetts about twenty times. Previously served as treasurer of Watertown, Massachusetts from 1955 to 1967.
- Abraham "Honest Abe" Hirschfeld, a New York City businessman, ran unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate in 1974 (defeated in Democratic primary) and 2004 (on a minor party line), for the New York City Council, for Manhattan Borough President in 1997, for Lieutenant Governor of New York, for New York State Comptroller in 1998, and for Mayor of Miami Beach, Florida.
- John Jay Hooker, a Tennessee Democrat, ran for several Tennessee offices, in later years mainly to gain standing for lawsuits against more serious candidates on the grounds of campaign finance violations.
- George P. Mahoney, a building contractor who undoubtedly with his candidacies led to the creation of a future Vice President. Mahoney, a conservative Democrat from Maryland who ran for U.S. Senate in 1952, 1956, 1958, 1968, and 1970 and for Governor of Maryland as a Democrat in 1950, 1954, 1962, and 1966. Mahoney won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1966 with just 30.21% of the vote. U.S. Representative Carlton R. Sickles (29.84%) and Attorney General of Maryland Thomas B. Finan (27.31%) split the vote and allowed Mahoney, who ran on a segregationist and anti-open housing campaign to triumph. In the general election, Mahoney's slogan, "Your home is your castle; protect it", as well as his stance on many civil rights issues, prompted Baltimore City Comptroller Hyman A. Pressman to enter the race as an Independent candidate. Mahoney's controversial stances caused many liberals in the Maryland Democratic Party to split their support between Spiro Agnew, due to his pro-civil rights, socially moderate views, and Pressman. This split helped Agnew to win the election with a plurality, taking 70% of the black vote. Agnew in 1969 became Vice President of the United States under Richard Nixon.
- Basil Marceaux, during the 2010 election cycle filed as a candidate for the Republican nominations for governor in the Tennessee gubernatorial election and U.S. House of Representatives in Tennessee's 3rd congressional district. Before his 2010 candidacies for governor and the U.S. House, Marceaux had previously run as a candidate for the Tennessee State Senate three times, the United States Senate once and the Governor of Tennessee in three separate elections.
- Jimmy McMillan, founder of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, has run for Mayor of New York City in 1993, 2005, 2009 and 2013, US Senate in 2000, Governor of New York in 1994, 2006, and 2010, and President of the United States in 2012.
- Marcus Morton, candidate for Governor of Massachusetts every year from 1828 to 1843. He won twice (1839 and 1842). His 1839 victory came in the closest governor's race in United States history.
- John Raese, a Republican, unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate from West Virginia in 1984, 2006, 2010, and 2012. Raese also ran for Governor in 1988, but lost the Republican primary.
- Vermin Supreme is an American performance artist and activist who has run as a candidate in various local, state, and national elections in the United States.
- Jay Wolfe unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate from West Virginia as the Republican nominee in 1988, 2002, and 2008.
- Jacob Coxey best known for his 1894 March on Washington DC, Coxey ran 3 times for US Senate for Ohio, and twice as the People's Party nominee for Governor of Ohio in 1895 and 1897. Coxey also was the Mayor of Massilon, OH from 1931 to 1933 in addition to losing numerous congressional races.
- Luther Devine Knox, a Louisiana Democrat, sought several Louisiana offices between 1963 and 1999, never winning, and only coming close once (his first election, losing to Lantz Womack by 18 votes). By the 1980s, Knox had legally changed his name to "none of the above" because of his desire for voters to have that option on their ballots.
- James D. Martin, one of the first Republican politicians to make an electoral impact in the once solid-Democratic state of Alabama, ran for the U.S. Senate three times and governor of Alabama once in the 1960s and 1970s, and also unsuccessfully sought the office of state treasurer in 1994. By the time of Martin's 1978 Senate campaign, his opponent had already acknowledged him as the "Harold Stassen of Alabama."
- Eugene McCarthy, senator from Minnesota, though successful in multiple campaigns for the U.S. Congress, was a perennial presidential candidate. He ran for the Presidency five times, in 1968, 1972, 1976, 1988, and 1992. He tried (unsuccessfully) for the Democratic Presidential nomination in three of those years (1968, 1972, and 1992), and ran as an Independent in the other two years.
- Jim Oberweis, Illinois dairy magnate, unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2004, Illinois Governor in 2006, and U.S. Representative in the Illinois 14th district in 2008 in the special election to replace retiring Dennis Hastert as well as in the November election. In his fifth attempt at elected office, he succeeded at winning a seat in the Illinois Senate in November 2012, winning reelection to that seat in 2016. He was the 2014 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.
- Jim Rogers, an Oklahoma Democrat notorious for his secrecy and almost complete lack of campaigning, ran for the state's two U.S. senate seats every election from 2002 to 2014 and died less than two weeks after his last race; he also ran in the 2012 Oklahoma Democratic presidential primary, finishing in third place with 15% of the vote.
- Spencer Zimmerman, Wisconsin Air Force Veteran, unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in Nebraska, Wisconsin State Assembly, Wisconsin Secretary of State, U.S. Representative in the Wisconsin 1st District as a Trump conservative.
- Ted Brown, a California Libertarian, has run for state and federal office 14 times in the last 30 years, never receiving more than 6% of the vote.
- Mark Callahan has sought numerous offices under several different parties since 2009, including the Oregon House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, several boards of education, and President of the United States. As of October 2016, his sole victory in a contested election was the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate from Oregon in 2016. He subsequently lost the general election.
- John Carroll ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Hawaii in 2002, 2010, and 2018, for the United States House of Representatives in 2002, and for the United States Senate in 2000, 2012, and 2016.
- Campbell Cavasso unsuccessfully ran for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii in 2002, the United States Senate in 2004, 2010, and 2014, and for the United States House of Representatives in 2018.
- Goodspaceguy, who legally changed his name from Michael George Nelson, has run for local, state, and federal office in Washington state more than a dozen times.
- Eddie Hamilton, a Nevada Republican, runs on an almost yearly basis. He has run for Nevada's 1st Congressional District in 2008, Governor of Nevada in 2014, Henderson City Council in 2011 and 2015, US Senate in 2006, 2010 (as a Democrat), 2012 and 2016, Mayor of Henderson in 2013 and 2017. Each time he runs, he uses a different nickname such as "Fast Eddie", "Mr. Clean" "In Liberty" and "Swamper".
- Stan Lippman, an attorney and physicist, has unsuccessfully run for office more than eight times in the state of Washington.
- Uncle Mover, known for many years as Mike The Mover, who was born Michael Shanks but legally changed his name twice, has run for public office in Washington state more than 17 times to help promote his furniture moving business.
- Richard Pope, a Bellevue, Washington, attorney, has run for local and state office in Washington state a dozen times, though has yet to be elected.
- Pro-Life, born Marvin Richardson, is an Idaho farmer who has run as an independent or as a Constitution Party candidate for the state House of Representatives, governor, and both houses of the United States Congress. He has expressed a commitment to continue running for public office until his death.
- Art Robinson, unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for the House of Representatives in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018.
- Dino Rossi, a Republican real estate investor from Washington, has run 8 failed campaigns for high-profile offices in the 21st century. He narrowly lost the 2004 gubernatorial election to Christine Gregoire, who he also lost to in 2008. Rossi then lost the 2010 U.S. Senate race to incumbent Patty Murray, and the 2018 U.S. House election for Washington's 8th congressional district to Kim Schrier.
- John H. Cox, a Republican talk radio host, has run for various positions in his home state of Illinois including U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, and Cook County Recorder of Deeds, the latter in an attempt to eliminate the position; which he saw as unnecessary. Cox ran unsuccessfully for the 2008 Republican nomination for President of the United States. He became the Republican candidate in the 2018 California gubernatorial election after placing second in California's nonpartisan blanket primary.
- Eugene V. Debs was a presidential candidate for the Social Democratic Party in 1900 and thereafter for the Socialist Party in four more elections: 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. In the 1920 election, while in federal prison for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 with a speech opposing the draft, he received 913,664 votes, the most ever for a Socialist Party presidential candidate.
- Peter Diamondstone ran in many elections under the Liberty Union Party in Vermont from 1970 until 2016; he died in 2017.
- Earl Dodge, a long-time activist in the temperance movement, was the Prohibition Party's presidential candidate in six consecutive elections, from 1984 to 2004. He was also that party's vice-presidential candidate in 1976 and 1980. He ran for Governor of Colorado on five occasions (1970, 1974, 1982, 1986, and 1994) as well. He also ran for senator of Kansas in 1966.
- David Duke, American white supremacist, activist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, Holocaust denier, convicted felon, and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. A former Republican Louisiana State Representative, Duke was a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1988 and the Republican presidential primaries in 1992. Duke also ran unsuccessfully for the Louisiana State Senate, United States Senate, United States House of Representatives, and for Governor of Louisiana.
- Jack Fellure ran for the Republican Party nomination in every presidential election from 1988 to 2016, and declared that he will run in 2020. In the 2012 campaign, he withdrew from the Republican nomination race, and become the presidential nominee of the Prohibition Party.
- Howie Hawkins, co-founder of the Green Party, has run in over 20 elections since 1993, never winning.
- Alan Keyes, former assistant secretary of state and conservative activist. ran for President of the United States in 1996, 2000, and 2008. He was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Maryland against Paul Sarbanes in 1988 and Barbara Mikulski in 1992, as well as in Illinois against Barack Obama in 2004. Keyes lost all three elections by wide margins.
- Gloria La Riva, a socialist activist, has run as either a presidential or vice presidential candidate in every U.S. presidential election since 1984.
- Lyndon LaRouche, a fringe political figure, ran for president of the United States in eight elections, beginning in 1976. He ran once as a U.S. Labor Party candidate and seven times as a Democrat. In 1992, he campaigned while in federal prison. Many of his followers have also run for office repeatedly, including Sheila Jones and Elliott Greenspan, both of whom made eight campaigns for a variety of offices.
- Andy Martin (also known as Anthony Martin-Trigona), a journalist and self-described consumer advocate has run for several local, state and federal offices dating back to at least 1977, including two runs for president and six runs for Senate. He has run as a Democrat, a Republican and as an independent.
- Pat Paulsen, a comedian best known for his appearances on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, first ran for president in 1968 as both a joke and a protest. He ran again in 1972 and in succeeding elections until 1996, one year prior to his death.
- Shawn O'Hara, a member of the Reform Party, ran for office 52 times over his career, including 19 runs for the United States Senate and 5 runs for Governor of Mississippi.
- Sam Sloan, a polymath with interests in board games, obscure foreign languages, and over-the-counter stock trading, has run for New York governor in every election since 2006, for the U.S. Presidency in 2012 and 2016, New York City Mayor in 2009 and 2013, and U.S. Congress in 2014 and 2016. He has run as a Democrat, a Libertarian and under various third parties.
- Harold Stassen is perhaps the most famous and distinguished perennial presidential candidate in U.S. history, along with Ralph Nader. A one-time governor of Minnesota and former president of the University of Pennsylvania, he ran for the Republican nomination for president nine times between 1944 and 1992. While Stassen was considered a serious candidate in 1944, 1948 and 1952, his persistent attempts were increasingly met with derision and then amusement as the decades progressed. He also ran in 10 other races for lower offices.
- Jill Stein, a physician and member of the Green Party. Stein has run for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010, president in 2012 and 2016, Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2004 and Secretary of the Commonwealth in 2006. However, she was elected to the Town of Lexington Town Meeting Representative in 2005 and 2008.
- Milton Street ran for Mayor of Philadelphia in 2007, 2011, and 2015 (but withdrew in 2007 to run for an at-large City Council seat instead) and for US Congress in 1984. A businessman and activist, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1978 and the Pennsylvania State Senate in 1980, but lost his first reelection in 1984. He is the older brother of former Philadelphia Mayor John Street
- Vermin Supreme, former candidate for Mayor of Baltimore, Mayor of Detroit, Mayor of Mercury, Nevada, campaigned in the Democratic Party primary in 2004 and 2016, and in New Hampshire Republican Party primary in 2008 and 2012
- Danny Tarkanian, a Republican businessman from Las Vegas and son of UNLV Basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian. He has run for Nevada State Senate, Secretary of State, US Senate in 2010 and 2018, Nevada System of Higher Education and Nevada's 4th and 3rd districts in 2012 and 2016 respectively. He did not reside in either congressional district during his last two campaigns.
- Glen H. Taylor, a Democrat known as "The Singing Cowboy," ran for Congress in Idaho seven times (1938, 1940, 1942, 1944, 1950, 1954 and 1956). His 1944 Senate run was his only successful campaign. Taylor was also the Progressive Party vice presidential nominee in 1948.
- Randall Terry is an anti-abortion activist who has run for numerous positions in the national and state governments, including president. He is notorious for getting glitterbombed by candidate Vermin Supreme at the 2012 lesser known Democratic presidential debate.
- Norman Thomas was the Socialist Party's candidate for President of the United States on six occasions from 1928 to 1948 inclusive. He also ran for Governor of New York in 1924, for Mayor of New York in 1925, for New York State Senate in 1926, for Alderman in 1927, for Mayor of New York again in 1929, and for the US Senate in New York in 1934. Unlike most other perennial candidates, Thomas influenced American politics to a considerable degree with many of his policies being appropriated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.
- Don Wright, as president of the Alaska Federation of Natives during the early 1970s, played a major role in the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. However, Wright is far better known as a perennial candidate, having run for statewide office in Alaska 15 times since 1968. Wright has run for governor of Alaska 11 consecutive times since 1974. Wright ran 7 of those campaigns under a major party, but lost in the primary election each time. The remaining four times (1978, 2002, 2006 and 2010), he was the nominee of the Alaskan Independence Party.
- Ronald Graeser has run for Congress in Michigan’s 2nd District every election since 2000. Each time was as the US Taxpayers candidate.
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The nineties also saw the first openly transgender person in a state office, Althea Garrison, elected in 1992 but serving only one term in Massachusetts' House.
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