After losing an election, most people are too depressed to ever try again. Putting your name on the ballot and facing rejection from your friends and neighbors is a lot to handle. Others try and try again, but none to the extent of Canadian John Turmel.
The first time Turmel ran in an election, it was 1979 and his primary aim was to legalize gambling. While his door-knocking efforts earned him just 193 votes, the race kicked off an obsession that would eventually launch the Canadian into the record books for having contested, and lost, the highest number of elections in the world.
Over the last 40 years, he has run in 95 elections for everything from city council to Member of Parliament. He runs as an independent most of the time and his vote totals have fluctuated from 11 to 4,500. To the self-described professional gambler, elections are not there to be won or lost, but rather a low-cost means of disseminating ideas. Turmel’s first foray into elections was prompted by a police crackdown on the underground blackjack games he was running in Ottawa. “I kept getting busted,” he says. “So I ran for parliament in 1979 to legalize gambling and stop busting me.”
His campaigns are financed by his “profession.” He lives three blocks away from the biggest poker game in the country, which has allowed him to finance all his runs for office. He says “I have no regrets. For a guy with no resources, doing it all with my winnings from mainly illegal games, what have I got to be ashamed of?”