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American Independent Party

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American Independent Party
ChairmanVictor Marani (CA)[1]
Vice ChairmanJames Mallamace[2]
FoundersBill Shearer
Eileen Knowland Shearer
FoundedJuly 8, 1967; 57 years ago (1967-07-08)
Split fromDemocratic Party
Republican Party
HeadquartersPO Box 1479.
Freedom, California 95019
IdeologyAmerican nationalism
Right-wing populism
Formerly, now factions:
Economic populism
Syncretic politics
Political positionRight-wing
National affiliationAmerican Independent Party[4]
Slogan"No North, No South, No East, No West - One Great Nation, Heaven Blessed!"
State Senate
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State House
0 / 80
Party flag

The American Independent Party (AIP) is a political party in the United States founded in 1968.[5][6]

The party experienced a split in 1976, resulting in the formation of the American Party and the continuation of the American Independent Party. The AIP was affiliated with the national Constitution Party from 1992 to 2008. A leadership dispute occurred within the AIP during the 2008 election cycle following its disaffiliation from the Constitution Party.

The party is known for highlighting independent campaigns. In April 2024, the AIP nominated independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr and running-mate Nicole Shanahan to their ticket.[7]



Wallace campaign and early history

Wallace's 1969 AIP party card, showing annual dues of $3.00 for the organization

In 1967, the AIP was founded by Bill Shearer and his wife, Eileen Knowland Shearer. It nominated George C. Wallace (Democrat) as its presidential candidate and retired U.S. Air Force General Curtis E. LeMay (Republican) as the vice-presidential candidate. Wallace ran on every state ballot in the election, though he did not represent the American Independent Party in all fifty states: in Connecticut, for instance, he was listed on the ballot as the nominee of the "George Wallace Party." The Wallace/LeMay ticket received 13.5 percent of the popular vote and 46 electoral votes from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama. No third-party candidate has won more than one electoral vote since the 1968 election.[8][9]

In 1969, representatives from forty states established the American Party as the successor to the American Independent Party. In some places, such as Connecticut, the American Party was constituted as the American Conservative Party. (The modern American Conservative Party, founded in 2008, is unrelated to the Wallace-era party.) In March 1969, the party ran a candidate in a special election in Tennessee's 8th congressional district in northwestern Tennessee, where Wallace had done well the previous November, to replace Congressman Robert "Fats" Everett, who had died in office. Their candidate, William J. Davis, out-polled Republican Leonard Dunavant, with 16,375 votes to Dunavant's 15,773; but the race was carried by moderate Democrat Ed Jones, with 33,028 votes (47% of the vote).

The party flag, adopted on August 30, 1970, depicts an eagle holding a group of arrows in its left talons, over a compass rose, with a banner which reads "The American Independent Party" at the eagle's base.

The American Party had gained ballot access in Tennessee in 1970 as the result of George Wallace's strong (second-place) showing in the state in 1968, easily crossing the 5 percent threshold required, and held a primary election which nominated a slate of candidates including businessman Douglas Heinsohn for governor. However, neither Heinsohn nor any other candidate running on the American Party line achieved the 5 percent threshold in the 1970 Tennessee election, and it likewise failed to do so in 1972, meaning that the party lost its newfound ballot access, which as of 2021 it has never regained.[10]

In 1972, the American Party nominated Republican Congressman John G. Schmitz of California for president and Tennessee author Thomas Jefferson Anderson, both members of the John Birch Society, for vice president, winning the party over 1.1 million votes, the highest vote share the party has ever achieved since Wallace's run.[11] That year, Hall Lyons, a petroleum industry executive and former Republican, ran as the AP nominee in Louisiana for the United States Senate but finished last in a four-way race dominated by the Democratic nominee, J. Bennett Johnston, Jr.

After the 1976 split


In 1976, the American Independent Party split into the more moderate American Party, which included more northern conservatives and Schmitz supporters, and the American Independent Party, which focused on the Deep South. Both parties have nominated candidates for the presidency and other offices. Neither the American Party nor the American Independent Party has had national success, and the American Party has not achieved ballot status in any state since 1996.

In the early 1980s, Bill Shearer led the American Independent Party into the Populist Party. From 1992 to 2008, the American Independent Party was the California affiliate of the national Constitution Party, formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party, whose founders included the late Howard Phillips.

2007 leadership dispute


A split in the American Independent Party occurred during the 2008 presidential campaign, one faction recognizing Jim King as chairman of the AIP with the other recognizing Ed Noonan as chairman. Noonan's faction claims the old AIP main website while the King organization claims the AIP's blog. King's group met in Los Angeles on June 28–29, elected King to state chair.[12] Ed Noonan's faction, which included 8 of the 17 AIP officers, held a convention in Sacramento on July 5, 2008. Issues in the split were U.S. foreign policy and the influence of Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips on the state party.[13]

The King group elected to stay in the Constitution Party and supported its presidential candidate, Chuck Baldwin. It was not listed as the "Qualified Political Party" by the California Secretary of State and Baldwin's name was not printed on the state's ballots.[14] King's group sued for ballot access[15] and their case was dismissed without prejudice.[16]

The Noonan group voted to pull out of the Constitution Party and join a new party called America's Party, put together by perennial candidate and former United Nations Ambassador Alan Keyes as a vehicle for his own presidential campaign.[13] Since Noonan was on record with the California Secretary of State as (outgoing) party chairman, Keyes was added to the state ballots as the AIP candidate.[17] This group elected Markham Robinson as its new chair at the convention.

Presidential tickets

Year Presidential
Home state Previous positions Vice presidential
Home state Previous positions Votes Ref.
George Wallace
 Alabama Governor of Alabama

Curtis LeMay
 California Chief of Staff of the Air Force (1961–1965)
Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force (1957–1961)
Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Air Command (1948–1957)
9,906,473 (13.5%)
46 EV
John G. Schmitz
 California Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 35th district

Thomas J. Anderson
 Tennessee Magazine publisher 1,099,482 (1.4%)
0 EV
Lester Maddox
 Georgia Governor of Georgia (1967–1971)
Lieutenant Governor of Georgia (1971–1975)

William Dyke
 Wisconsin Mayor of Madison (1969–1973)
Candidate for Governor of Wisconsin (1974)
170,531 (0.2%)
0 EV
John Rarick
 Louisiana Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana's 6th district
Eileen Shearer  California Co-founder of the American Independent Party 41,268 (<0.1%)
0 EV
Bob Richards
 Texas Retired Olympic athlete (1948; 1952; 1956)
Maureen K. Salaman
 California Writer, nutritionist 66,336 (0.1%)
0 EV
1988 James C. Griffin  Texas Nominee for United States Senator from California (1980)
Nominee for Governor of California (1982)
Nominee for Lieutenant Governor of California (1986)
Charles Morsa  California 27,818 (<0.1%)
0 EV
Howard Phillips
(U.S. Taxpayers')
 Virginia Chairman of The Conservative Caucus
Candidate for United States Senator from Massachusetts (1978)
Albion W. Knight  Florida Presiding Bishop of the United Episcopal Church of North America
43,369 (<0.1%)
0 EV
Howard Phillips
(U.S. Taxpayers')
 Virginia Chairman of The Conservative Caucus
Candidate for United States Senator from Massachusetts (1978)
Nominee for President of the United States (1992)
Herbert Titus  Oregon Lawyer, writer 184,656 (0.2%)
0 EV
Howard Phillips
 Virginia Chairman of The Conservative Caucus
Candidate for United States Senator from Massachusetts (1978)
Nominee for President of the United States (1992; 1996)
Curtis Frazier  Missouri Candidate for United States Senator from Missouri (1998) 98,020 (0.1%)
0 EV
2004 Michael Peroutka
 Maryland Lawyer
Founder of the Institute on the Constitution

Chuck Baldwin
 Florida Pastor, radio host 143,630 (0.1%)
0 EV
Alan Keyes

(America's Independent)

 New York Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
Candidate for United States Senator from Maryland (1988; 1992)
Candidate for President of the United States (1996; 2000)
Candidate for United States Senator from Illinois (2004)
Wiley Drake  California Minister, radio host 47,694 (<0.1%)
0 EV
Tom Hoefling
 Iowa Activist Robert Ornelas  California Activist 40,641 (<0.1%)
0 EV
2016 Trump smiling
Donald Trump


 New York Businessman
Chairman of The Trump Organization (1971–2017)

Mike Pence
 Indiana Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana
Governor of Indiana (2013–2017)
62,984,825 (46.1%)
304 EV
Rocky De La Fuente
(Alliance; Reform)
 California Businessman and perennial candidate
Kanye West

(Independent; Birthday)

 Wyoming Rapper, producer and fashion designer;
2020 presidential candidate
60,160 (0.34%)
0 EV
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
(Independent campaign)
 District of Columbia Environmental lawyer Nicole Shanahan  California Attorney TBD [23]

Following the split within the American Independent Party into factions led by Jim King and Ed Noonan, the Noonan faction has maintained control over the party's operations and ballot access in California. The party did not nominate Chuck Baldwin, the 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate, nor Virgil Goode, the 2012 nominee, and both candidates were unable to secure independent positions on the California presidential ballot.

California gubernatorial candidates

Electoral results of American Independent Party candidates in California gubernatorial elections
Year Candidate # Votes % Votes
1970 Bill Shearer 65,847 1.01
1974 Edmon V. Kaiser 83,869 1.34
1978 Theresa F. Dietrich 67,103 0.97
1982 James C. Griffin 56,249 0.71
1986 Gary V. Miller 50,547 0.68
1990 Jerome McCready 139,661 1.81
1994 Jerome McCready 133,888 1.55
1998 Nathan Johnson 37,964 0.45
2002 Reinhold Gulke 128,035 1.71
2003 Charles Pineda, Jr. 1,104 0.01
2003 Diane Beall Templin 1,067 0.01
2006 Edward C. Noonan 61,901 0.71
2010 Chelene Nightingale 166,312 1.65
2014 No Candidate[a] N/A N/A
2018 No Candidate[b] N/A N/A
2021 No Candidate[c] N/A N/A


  • Bill Shearer: 1967–1999
  • Nathan Johnson: 1999–2002
  • Jim King:[who?] 2002–2004
  • Nancy Spirkoff: 2004–2006
  • Edward C. Noonan/Mark Seidenberg: 2006–2008
  • Disputed: Jim King and Markham Robinson claim chairmanship: 2008–2024
  • Victor Marani/James Mallamace: 2024–current[24]

California membership issues


In 2016, approximately 3% of California's 17.2 million voters were registered with the American Independent Party (AIP), ranking it as the third-largest political party in the state by registration, following the Democratic (43%) and Republican (28%) parties and those who registered as "no party preference" (24%).[25]

However, it has long been proposed by political analysts that the party, which has received very few votes in recent California elections, maintains its state ballot status because people join the American Independent Party mistakenly believing that they are registering as "independent" voters.[26][27]

A 2016 Los Angeles Times investigation suggested that a significant number of voters registered with the AIP may have done so under the misconception that they were registering as independent, unaffiliated voters, which is officially designated as "no party preference" in California. A poll of voters registered with the AIP indicated that a majority may not have intended to register with the party. The investigation highlighted potential confusion caused by the party's name.[3][25]

A 2016 poll conducted of California voters registered with the AIP showed that 73% identify themselves as "no affiliation" and 3% identify themselves as "undecided."[25] Upon learning the AIP platform, 50% of registered AIP voters wanted to leave the AIP.[25] A Times review of voting records revealed a wide array of Californians have fallen victim to this error, including celebrities such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Demi Moore, Emma Stone, and Kaley Cuoco.[25] Similarly, in 2008, Jennifer Siebel, then-fiancée of San Francisco's former Democratic mayor Gavin Newsom, attempted to change her party affiliation from Republican to unaffiliated, but "checked the American Independent box thinking that was what independent voters were supposed to do."[28]

This confusion results in accidentally registered AIP members being unable to vote in presidential primary elections and, in prior years, in all partisan primary elections other than those of the AIP.[26][25] A number of California registrars of voters had expressed concern over the confusion that the party's name causes.[25] Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, said that the California voter form was "confusing and somewhat misleading."[3] However, since the advent of the "top-two" blanket primary in California in 2012, all voters may participate in non-presidential primary elections where nominations for public office are to be made. Presidential nominations and elections of members of party county central committees are still restricted to voters registered in the party where such contests are held, but a party may choose to allow voters with No Party Preference to vote in their presidential primary.[29] In addition, voters are able to re-register to the party of their choosing on election day via election day registration, mitigating the issue further.[30]


  1. ^ "The American Independent Party - The Fastest Growing Political Party In California". www.aipca.vote.
  2. ^ https://www.aipca.vote/_theme/assets/files/statements/AIP-Resolution-USSS-Protection.pdf. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b c John Myers, Would-be independents joining the American Independent Party could blame California's voter registration card, Los Angeles Times (April 19, 2016).
  4. ^ "History of the American Independent Party". American Independent Party. 2011. Archived from the original on 2018-12-24. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
  5. ^ "American Independent Party Platform of 1968 | The American Presidency Project". www.presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2024-04-17.
  6. ^ "Qualified Political Parties :: California Secretary of State". www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2024-04-30.
  7. ^ "Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he has qualified for California's presidential ballot". Los Angeles Times. 2024-04-30. Retrieved 2024-04-30.
  8. ^ Chrostopher D. Rodkey, "Third Parties" in Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints and Voices (eds. Roger Chapman & James Ciment: 2d ed: Routledge, 2015), p. 665.
  9. ^ ""Conservative third parties since the New Deal" in The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (Vol. 1) (eds. April Kazin, Rebecca Edwards & Adam Rothman: Princeton University Press, 2010), p. 195.
  10. ^ Tennessee Blue Book, Tennessee Secretary of State, 1971, 1973 "Elections"
  11. ^ Leip, Dave (2019). "1972 Presidential General Election Results".
  12. ^ Quirk, Cody. "AIP holds its State Convention, endorses Chuck Baldwin and reaffirms CP affiliation Archived 2008-07-17 at the Wayback Machine", Third Party Watch, June 30, 2008.
  13. ^ a b Bock, Alan. "American-Independent split Archived October 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine". Orange County Register Horserace '08. Wednesday, July 2, 2008.
  14. ^ "California Secretary of State - Elections & Voter Information - Qualified Political Parties". Archived from the original on July 17, 2008.
  15. ^ Quirk, Cody. "Statement from Jim King, AIP Chairman Archived 2008-08-21 at the Wayback Machine", Third Party Watch, July 22, 2008.
  16. ^ Winger, Richard. "Keyes Wins California Lawsuit on Procedural Issue", Ballot Access News, August 26, 2008.
  17. ^ Garris, Eric. "California Ballot: Alan Keyes Replaces Chuck Baldwin on American Independent Party Ticket[permanent dead link]", Third Party Watch, July 22, 2008.
  18. ^ And political party if different from the AIP.
  19. ^ Wallace and LeMay carried five states, receiving 45 electoral votes, plus one from a North Carolina faithless elector.
  20. ^ Joseph Sobran was the original vice presidential nominee, but he withdrew from the ticket and was replaced by Frazier.
  21. ^ Mejia Davis, Edward (2 November 2016). "Trump is the nominee of George Wallace's American Independent Party in California". CNN. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  22. ^ Winger, Richard (August 15, 2020). "American Independent Party Nominates Rocky De La Fuente for President and Kanye West for Vice-President". Ballot Access News. Archived from the original on August 15, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  23. ^ RFK Jr.: Officially On The Ballot In California. Retrieved 2024-04-29 – via www.youtube.com.
  24. ^ https://www.aipca.vote/_theme/assets/files/statements/AIP-Resolution-CHP-Protection.pdf
  25. ^ a b c d e f g John Myers, Christine Mai-Duc & Ben Welsh, Are you an independent voter? You aren't if you checked this box, Los Angeles Times (April 17, 2016).
  26. ^ a b "Many American Independent Party voters in California are mis-registered". NPR.
  27. ^ Voting at the Political Fault Line: California's Experiment With the Blanket Primary (eds. Bruce E. Cain & Elisabeth R. Gerber, University of California Press, 2002), p. 219. ISBN 0-520-22834-0.
  28. ^ Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross (April 22, 2008). "Newsom's girlfriend stumbles into wrong party". San Francisco Chronicle.
  29. ^ "No Party Preference Information". California Secretary of State. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  30. ^ "California's primary vote count could take longer than ever". AP NEWS. 2020-02-01. Retrieved 2023-02-10.


  1. ^ Nominated Tim Donnelly for the top two primary for governor, not affiliated with the party
  2. ^ Nominated John Cox for governor, not affiliated with the party
  3. ^ Nominated Larry Elder for governor, not affiliated with the party