Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Fitness model Andre Barnett of Poughkeepsie, New York won the presidential nomination of the Reform Party of the United States at its national convention in Philadelphia last weekend. Consultant Kenneth Cross was selected as his running mate.
Barnett, who founded the company WiseDome, became a fitness model after suffering an injury in a 2000 helicopter incident while serving in the U.S. Army. He participated in last January’s Wikinews Reform Party USA presidential candidates forum, along with then-candidates former Savannah State football coach Robby Wells and Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert David Steele.
Both Wells and Steele withdrew long before the convention as did others who later announced their candidacies, notably former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer and former Council of Economic Advisers Senior Economist Laurence Kotlikoff. As Wikinews reported in June, historian Darcy Richardson also sought the nomination, but he tells Wikinews that he did not attend the convention and withdrew from the race in July, “once it became clear the party wasn’t going to qualify for the ballot in Arkansas, New Jersey and a few of the other relatively easy states.”
Two other candidates — Cross, who later won the vice presidential nomination, and Dow Chemical worker Edward Chlapowski — attended the convention, where they debated Barnett before the delegate vote.
In his acceptance speech, Barnett referred to the Reform Party as “the microcosm of America”, and proclaimed that as the party’s nominee, he would not focus on social issues that “[belong] outside of politics”, but instead would center his campaign on the economy, defense, and education.
The Reform Party currently has ballot access in four states: Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kansas; but in June, the disaffiliated Kansas Reform Party chose to nominate 2008 Constitution Party presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin.