The Geraldine Ferraro Urban Legend
(The following letters are part of my ongoing campaign to correct the various urban legends about Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 Democratic Party race for the U.S. vice presidency. Those urban legends are (1) that she was the first woman to ever run for the U.S. vice presidency, and (2) that she was the first woman to ever receive an Electoral College vote.)
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Wednesday's article "Ferraro loses bid for Senate" described Geraldine Ferraro as "the first woman ever on a major party presidential ticket."
That's true. It's important to note, however, that Ms. Ferraro was not the first woman to ever receive an Electoral College vote in a US presidential election. That honor belongs to Tonie Nathan, who in 1972 ran for vice president on the very first Libertarian Party national ticket. She received one Electoral College vote, earning her that unique place in history.
In Georgia, the Libertarian Party has similarly been the home of firsts for women. The first woman to ever appear on the general election ballot for a statewide office was Elizabeth Goldin, who in 1988 ran for the Georgia Public Service Commission -- and received enough votes to win the party the ballot status it still enjoys today. In 1990, Libertarian Carole Ann Rand became the first woman candidate for Governor on the Georgia general election ballot.
And in 1994, my wife Sharon Harris became the first woman on the Georgia general election ballot for Commissioner of Agriculture.
Women have similarly played internal leadership roles in the Libertarian Party of Georgia, serving as officers in virtually every position, including Chair, since the party's founding days.
Incidentally, this year the Libertarian Party of Georgia has achieved another first: they are running more candidates for statewide office than any third party in Georgia history.
James W. Harris
(unpublished letter sent to the Atlanta Journal)