H. Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems, Inc., ran for president in 1992 as an independent candidate and received 19 percent of the popular vote. In September 1995 Perot organized the Reform Party and was the party's 1996 presidential candidate. The Reform Party's ticket, which included Perot's running mate, Pat Choate, appeared on the ballot in every state and won eight percent of the vote.
Perot entered the 1992 presidential race in February 1992 and gradually gained substantial widespread support with his well-financed campaign and straight talk about government. Perot made campaign finance reform, national trade deficits, and the BALANCING of the FEDERAL BUDGET the main issues in his campaign. In July Perot withdrew from the race when he received critical media coverage and lost his campaign manager, Edward J. Rollins. However, public support for his candidacy persisted, and Perot reentered the race in October with former navy admiral James B. Stockdale as his running mate.
In 1996 the Reform Party fielded several candidates in elections across the country. At the party's national convention, University of Denver professor and former Colorado governor Richard D. Lamm challenged Perot's nomination, but Perot won handily.
The Reform Party experienced some success in the late 1990s. In 1998, former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was elected as the governor of Minnesota on the Reform Party ticket. A year later, conservative commentator PAT BUCHANAN quit the REPUBLICAN PARTY to join the Reform Party.
Despite these gains, the party engaged in a civil war in 2000 that continued to have negative implications. Ventura quit the party in February 2000, calling it "dysfunctional." A month later, Choate and Jack Gargan, who had become chairman of the party on January 1, 2000, but was later voted out of office, asked a federal court to determine which of them should be named as the proper chairman. A federal district court in Virginia named Choate as chairman, but the internal strife continued. Buchanan and his supporters clashed with Perot loyalists over the nomination for the party's candidate for the 2000 presidential election. Buchanan was eventually nominated, but the problems with the party were evident in the election. Despite spending more than $38 million for the election, Buchanan received only 448,895 total votes.
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