Celebrity Names Blog

In Idaho, a Candidate for Governor Takes the Legal Name "Pro-Life"

Now more than ever, the names we choose send messages. Of course, some of those names send messages more directly than others do.

Meet Pro-Life, a candidate for governor in Idaho.

Pro-Life is his legal name. A perennial candidate, the former coal miner and CPA-turned-organic strawberry farmer has also run for state senate and Fire Commissioner. In 2004, he legally changed his name to Marvin Pro-Life Richardson, to make his message crystal clear.

Things took a turn when, in the 2006 governor's race, Idaho's Secretary of State would not allow Richardson's middle name to appear on the ballot. Instead, the candidate would be allowed to use his middle initial: Marvin P. Richardson. Denied the full measure of his chosen name, Richardson returned to court and legally dropped Marvin and Richardson.

Which wasn't the end of the naming story. In 2008, when Pro-Life ran for U.S. Senate, the Idaho legislature hastily adopted a law requiring that candidates who had changed their names to political slogans must have those names followed on the ballot by a parenthetical note clarifying that the name belonged to a person. Thus, on this year's roster of Idaho's candidates for governor, you'll find him listed like this: Pro-Life (a person formerly known as Marvin Richardson).

(The language, of course, is part of Prince's continuing legacy to the nomenclaturally-confusing.)

According to The Daily Beast, Pro-Life's wife calls him Pro Vida. Debate moderators, on the other hand, have had a harder time, referring to him sometimes as Mr. Life. While surely not as hilarious as Jimmy MacMillan's debate performance on behalf of New York's 'Rent is Too Damn High' party, Pro-Life reportedly elicited laughs and exchanged "fist bumps" with Republican Governer C.L. "Butch" Otter during their recent debate.

As it turns out, Pro-Life's is not a unique stunt. In places where none of the above is not a valid ballot option, for example, candidates have craftily made it an option by taking the slogan as their legal name. Britain records two such name-changes this year, None of the Above Zero and None of the Above X.

In our post on Krystal Ball, we noted that an unusual name can sometimes help a candidate spread her message. So what message, ultimately, does Pro-Life's name send? That in our politics, quirkiness is alive and well.

In the spirit of letting our freak flags fly on this day of national elections, what political slogan would be your "name," or your party's name, if you were running solely to draw attention to an issue?



Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

November 2, 2010 2:46 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Idaho, Iowa...they're all the same... ;)

November 2, 2010 4:06 PM
By Amy (not verified)

Common Sense

November 2, 2010 4:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Not even close to the same state. How could you not have caught that? The only thing those two states have in common is they start with the same letter. That's like saying Nebraska instead of New York!

November 2, 2010 5:44 PM
By Mom (not verified)

How about "One America" or "One World"
or "Lets Get Together"

November 2, 2010 5:50 PM
By Taylor (not verified)

That is so beyond ridiculous and arrogant that I don't know what to make of it.

November 3, 2010 8:49 AM
By Lane

Lol! Joye, I love it. Great headline on that article, too.

November 3, 2010 11:43 AM
By Erin (not verified)

Reasoned Thought

November 10, 2010 3:34 AM
By Nina (not verified)

Would anyone vote for someone that is crazy enough to change his name to Pro-Life? It would make me NOT vote for him. Doesn't sounds like a stable person.

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