101-year-old Florida man running for Congress

Courtesy Joe Newman
Sarasota, Fla. man Joe Newman describes himself on his blog as “a 101 year old activist, a Great-Great Grandfather, and an Anthropological Progressive.” Oh – and did he mention he’s also running for Congress?

Touting his breadth of life experience, the centenarian has launched a campaign as a write-in candidate against four-term Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan. He told a local news station he wanted to run as a write-in candidate instead of seeking a major party nomination “because I want to feel free to criticize the Democrats and Republicans.”

“You learn through life you have certain responsibilities,” he told WFLA-TV. “And if you don't fulfill them, how can you look in the mirror?”

Newman counts among his priorities funding Social Security. One of his first jobs after graduating from the University of Notre Dame was to drum up awareness about the then-new federal program.

“That was our job, to sell them why a program like Social Security is essential to the economy and to society,” Newman said. “You had the same attitudes; we don't want government involved. And they forget what government is, they forget that government is society's tool to manage things.”

The oldest person to ever hold a House seat, according to the Congressional Research Service, is 90-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who is currently in office.

On his campaign blog, Newman writes that his age could actually put voters’ minds at ease: “At 101 years of age, a natural term limit exists and I have no designs on a lengthy political career that requires me to sell out my ideals, my values, or my constituents for a potential future payoff.”

But, he says he knows the odds are against him, and that he’s merely looking to “inspire citizens of all ages and walks of life to get involved, get engaged and to become active patriot leaders.”

“If people are saying, who is this fool at 101 and running? Call me a fool,” Newsman said. “I'm sorry, but I've got to get out and convince John and convince Jim, ‘Hey, think: What is the best thing our society can do and what is the responsibility of our society?’”

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