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The American Independent Party is a political party that was a vehicle for the 1968 presidential campaign of Governor of Alabama George C. Wallace, considered a leading advocate of racial segregation. After that election, the party continued as a California statewide party.

The party was established in 1967 by Bill Shearer and his wife Eileen. In 1968, the American Independent Party nominated Wallace as its presidential candidate and retired Air Force General Curtis E. LeMay as the vice presidential candidate. Wallace ran on every state ballot in the 1968 presidential election, though he did not represent the American Independent Party in all fifty states; in Connecticut, for instance, he was listed on the ballot as representing the "George Wallace Party." The Wallace/LeMay ticket received 13.5 percent of the popular vote and 46 electoral votes.

In 1969, representatives from 40 states established the American Party as the successor to the American Independent Party. In some places, such as Connecticut, the American Party was officially constituted as the American Conservative Party. (The modern American Conservative Party, founded in 2008, is unrelated to the Wallace-era party.) The official party flag adoption took place on August 30, 1970. The flag depicts an eagle holding a group of arrows in its left talons, over a compass rose, with a banner which reads "The American Independent Party" at the eagle's base. In 1972, the party nominated former Congressman John G. Schmitz of California for president and Tennesseemarker author Thomas Jefferson Anderson for vice president. In 1976, the American Party split into the more moderate American Party, which included more northern conservatives and Schmitz supporters, and the American Independent Party, which focused on the deep South. Both of the parties have nominated candidates for the presidency and other offices. Neither the American Party nor the American Independent Party has had much national success.

The American Independent Party has had ballot status in the state of California since 1968 and is still active there. As of early 2008, AIP's registration total was 328,261.

In the early 1980s, Bill Shearer led the American Independent Party into the Populist Party. Since 1992, the American Independent party has been the California affiliate of the national Constitution Party, formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party. However, in 2008 one faction of the AIP broke with the Constitution Party and gave the ballot line (which it controlled) to Alan Keyes, candidate of the similarly-named America's Independent Party.

Many political analysts have theorized that the Party, which has received very few votes in recent California elections, maintains its state ballot status because people join the Party mistakenly believing that they are registering as an "independent," also known as a "non-partisan" or "decline-to-state" voter. One such voter was Jennifer Siebel, fiancée of San Francisco's liberal Democratic mayor Gavin Newsom; in 2008, Siebel attempted to change her party affiliation from Republican to Non-Partisan, but "checked the American Independent box thinking that was what independent voters were supposed to do," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

2008 split

A split in the American Independent Party occurred during the 2008 presidential campaign, one faction recognizing Jim King as chairman of the AIP with the other recognizing Ed Noonan as chairman. Noonan's faction claims the old AIP Web site address while the King organization claims the AIP blog address. King's group met in Los Angeles on June 28-29, elected King to state chair. Ed Noonan's faction, which included 8 of the 17 AIP officers, held a convention in Sacramento on July 5, 2008. Issues in the split were US foreign policy and the influence of Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips on the state party.

The King group elected to stay in the Constitution Party and supported its presidential candidate, Chuck Baldwin. It was not listed as the "Qualified Political Party" by the California Secretary of State and Baldwin's name was not printed in the state's ballots. King's group sued for ballot access
and their case was dismissed without prejudice.

The Noonan group voted to pull out of the Constitution Party and join a new party called America’s Independent Party, put together by perennial candidate Alan Keyes as a vehicle for his own presidential campaign. Since Noonan was on record with the California Secretary of State as (outgoing) party chairman, Keyes was added to the state ballots as the AIP candidate. This group elected Markham Robinson as its new chair at the convention.

The issue of who are the true officers of the AIP has not been decided in the ballot access court case. The future of the party after the November election is not clear. The King faction has removed all references to the American Independent Party from their website and is now billed as the Constitution Party of California.

Presidential candidates

California gubernatorial candidates

The American Independent Party has nominated the following candidates for governor of California since becoming the California affiliate of the Constitution Party:


  • Bill Shearer: 1967-1999
  • Nathan Johnson: 1999-2002
  • Jim King/Reed R. Heustis: 2002-2004
  • Nancy Spirkoff: 2004-2006
  • Edward C. Noonan/Mark Seidenberg: 2006-2008
  • Disputed: Chair is either Jim King or Markham Robinson: 2008 - present


  1. [ Winger, Richard. "EARLY 2008 REGISTRATION TOTALS" Ballot Access News March 2008
  2. Voting at the Political Fault Line: California's Experiment With the Blanket Primary (2002), page 219. ISBN 0-520-22834-0.
  3. Newsom's girlfriend stumbles into wrong party
  4. Quirk, Cody "AIP holds its State Convention, endorses Chuck Baldwin and reaffirms CP affiliation" Third Party Watch June 30, 2008
  5. Bock, Alan. "American-Independent split" Orange County Register Horserace '08 Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
  6. California Secretary of State - Elections & Voter Information - Quaified Political Parties
  7. Quirk, Cody "Statement from Jim King, AIP Chairman" Third Party Watch July 22, 2008
  8. Winger, Richard "Keyes Wins California Lawsuit on Procedural Issue" Ballot Access News Aug. 26, 2008
  9. Garris, Eric "California Ballot: Alan Keyes Replaces Chuck Baldwin on American Independent Party Ticket" Third Party Watch July 22, 2008
  10. Ballot Access News: Keyes Wins California Lawsuit on Procedural Issues
  11. Blog of "King faction" now billed as the Constitution Party of California

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