On a recent Monday, Bill Hammons was driving around Denver and explaining what it’s like to be on the ballot for national office in Colorado as a candidate who is so far beyond recognition, he’s not even considered third party.
Hammons, 41, of Boulder, will be representing the Unity Party on Colorado’s crowded U.S. Senate ballot this November.
Chances are you’ve heard of his two top rivals: incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Darryl Glenn. If you read The Colorado Independent, you’ve likely read about the third-party candidates also on the ballot: Arn Menconi of the Green Party and the Libertarian’s Lilly Tang Williams.
But Hammons is something else.
While his campaign has a spokesperson, a director, and a campaign manager, he’s not even considered a third-party candidate in Colorado. Officially, he’s called a qualified political organization candidate. What that means its members have gone through certain steps to register as an actual political organization with bylaws and such, and that the organization meets at least once a year, and selects candidates who will petition to get on the ballot.
The Unity Party is the only qualified political organization in Colorado, and, as its nominated candidate, Hammons gathered the necessary 1,000 signatures to make the ballot. Now he’s trying to pitch himself as the alternative to the alternatives.
The Green Party hasn’t ever really gotten very far, and neither have the Libertarians, Hammons told The Colorado Independent by phone.
“They’re ideological,” he says. “They don’t really appeal to the middle like the Unity Party.”
Not that the Unity Party has gotten very far, either. The national party, which was founded in 2004 to push for balanced budgets and term limits, has membership in 35 states. It has around 400 registered members in Colorado, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Hammons is hoping for earned media and will show up to candidate forums, he says. Raising money is “always a challenge,” he acknowledges, “but I enjoyed the contribution ratio of 14 cents a vote in 2014,” when he ran for U.S. Senate on the Unity Party platform. He received 6,217 votes, bringing up the rear of the pack.
If voters in Colorado this year are fed up with the established political order for putting up Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. senator, U.S. Secretary of State and spouse of a former president, against Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman, celebrity and reality TV star, they already have two other choices down ballot from which to choose or with whom to register their discontent.
So, why Hammons? Why the Unity Party? He’s the candidate who brings the ideas of all the others together, he says.
“I’m an original thinker,” Hammons explains. “I’m not adhering to strict ideology on the right or the left. I’ve got some positions that people might think of as conservative. Some positions that some people might think of as even liberal, but I don’t really agree with those labels.”
Example: He believes in man-made climate change and supports efforts to combat it, such as with a nationwide carbon tax and a carbon tariff for trade agreements. But he also supports more traditionally conservative ideas like a balanced-budget amendment and term limits.
If elected, he’d push for something on which he believes everyone except lawmakers in D.C. and the Colorado capitol can agree: “We need to change the way that we’re drawing the congressional districts, as well as legislative districts.”
So basically, he’s Mr. Middle.
Born in Germany and raised in Texas, Hammons moved to Colorado about a decade ago. He was a rights manager at Newsweek for seven years and now he works for an accounting firm.
As for what he’d do specifically for Colorado if elected to the U.S. Senate, he says he’d take advantage of the state’s geographical location.
“I-70, as an example, a lot of America passes through this state,” he says, “and we could use that argument to get more federal funding, and you could apply that principle to other aspects of the economy.”
Hammons insists he is not running against incumbent Bennet specifically. Or anyone else. (He first ran by challenging sitting Congressman Jared Polis in 2008. He later took on incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.)
“I’m not running against people,” Hammons says. “I’m running against the system.”
According to the Secretary of State’s office, to remain in good standing in Colorado, a qualified political organization like the Unity Party must place a candidate on the general election ballot every two years.
So, in a way, too, Hammons might also be running for his party’s political survival.