Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Who was the first woman to receive an Electoral College vote?

Not the one you are probably thinking of — Geraldine Anne Ferraro (1935-2011).

The answer is: Theodora Nathan, listed on the ballots of Colorado and Washington State in 1972 as Tonie Nathan. She ran as the first Vice Presidential candidate for the fledgling Libertarian Party. She didn’t receive many votes — the party had barely been formed. But she got that one Electoral College vote because a Virginia state elector, Roger MacBride, was so disgusted by President Nixon and his wage and price controls (everybody has a tipping point) that he went renegade.

I bring this up because of sad news: Tonie Nathan died yesterday, age 91.

I knew her, having served with her on the Libertarian National Committee back in the 1980s. (See a recent picture of her, with former party chair Alicia Clark and me, at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention.) Tonie was a dynamo: sharp, kind, hard-working, organized, a people person committed to making a difference.

Her run to unseat Senator Bob Packwood (R-Oregon) in 1980 was memorable for the three televised debates with her major party opponents. In the first of them, all the major papers dubbed her the winner, one of which headlined her as having “skewered” her opponents.

Odd fact: She received eleven times more votes in her senatorial race than in her “nationwide” campaign.

I’ve noticed fewer debates with Libertarian candidates in them, since. I think it might be the result of fear of a Nathanesque “skewering.”

Her place in history should be more widely acknowledged.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

1 Comment

  1. Lynn Atherton Bloxham says:

    Toni was not only an adorable (almost) little person but had more energy than any other 50 people. Because we had corresponded by snail mail in the late 60’s when we finally met in person it was as if we had known each other all our lives. I always love to ask people who was the first woman electoral vote. Few ever knew the right answer. But indeed she did and for years after was such a contributor to the entire libertarian movement. She will be greatly missed.

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