A newly formed political party, the United Party, may appear on Idaho’s November ballot – even though the group hasn’t gathered the nearly 12,000 signatures it takes to get a new party on the Idaho ballot. That’s because the United Party is merging with the Natural Law Party, which has had ballot access in Idaho since 1996.
“Coming together with our friends in the Natural Law Party assures us legal access to the ballot in November,” said Andy Hedden-Nicely, a Boise businessman and founder of the new party, and its candidate for the 1st District congressional seat.
Hedden-Nicely said he considers the Transcendental Meditation movement – with which the Natural Law Party was affiliated – “a little kooky for politics stuff.” But, he said, “When you look at their statements on politics, they’re so right where we are, middle of the road.” The Natural Law Party, which pushed for “conflict-free politics” and “the reduction of individual and social stress,” was rooted in the TM movement, and was led by physicist and Maharishi University professor John Hagelin, its presidential candidate in 1992, 1996 and 2000. The party shut down its national headquarters in 2004.
Ann Vegors of Pocatello, the state chair of the Natural Law Party, sent a letter to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa last month stating that the state party’s six members voted unanimously to elect Hedden-Nicely as their new chairman, and to change the party’s name to “United Party.” Ysursa hasn’t acted on the name-change request yet, but there’s precedent for party name changes. The U.S. Taxpayers Party qualified for the Idaho ballot in 1996, then changed its name to the American Heritage Party in 1998, and then changed again in 2000 to the Constitution Party, its current name.
After qualifying for the ballot, a party can maintain its ballot access by running at least three candidates for state or national office in each election. This year, the Natural Law Party has three candidates running – Hedden-Nicely for Congress, and two legislative candidates in Pocatello and Shelley. Hedden-Nicely announced the formation of the United Party in 2005, calling for term limits, supporting small businesses and farmers, and a political “middle ground.”
Of late, his campaign has turned into something of a campaign against the media, as Hedden-Nicely has launched a boycott of the Idaho Statesman newspaper because it didn’t include him in its coverage of contested primary election races. Of course, he’s not in a contested primary election – his party, whichever name it ends up with, won’t be on the ballot until November’s general election.