A 101-year-old candidate has joined the race for the House seat held by Republican Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan, saying he's running in his first political race ever because he's worried for the future.
"I see a school bus, I’m 101, and these kids come off, and I wonder what's there for them," Joe Newman, the write-in candidate for Florida's solidly Republican 16th District told USA Today.
The state's oldest candidate, who lives in Sarasota, does have some experience with public policy, dating back to the 1930s, when he was hired by the Social Security Administration to go out and explain the then-new federal program.
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He also advocated for the mentally disabled while living in South Bend, Ind., after he and his late wife's daughter was born with disabilities. He says his proudest achievement was establishing a guardianship program in the Logan Center, a school for the mentally disabled that he and his wife helped establish.
Newman says his parents came to the United States around 1902 or 1903 from Russia. They were exiled to Siberia at around of the turn of the century for disagreeing with the czar, but were released and allowed to leave the country.
Newman calls his odds for victory "down to 1 million to 1" after reaction to his candidacy has grown. On his website,
he refers to himself an "anthropological progressive."
Newman told WWSB-TV,
the ABC affiliate in Sarasota, that he opted to run as a write-in instead of vying for one of the major party's nominations "because I want to feel free to criticize the Democrats or the Republicans."
Further, he says he wants to be able to discuss issues, including Obamacare, which he thinks doesn't go far enough.
"At what age does a person become too old to think and reason?" Newman says on his website. "At what age does a person no longer have a concern for society? At what age does a person no longer have a responsibility to act when acting may help?"
Newman says he knows he's old, and if he is elected, he'll be the oldest congressman. The oldest current member is Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who at 90 is the oldest to serve in the House. He said he knows he probably won't win, but it's "a victory" if his campaign gets people to think more about his issues.
Newman says he's concerned about being considered a "sideshow" because of his age. He jokes that he wouldn't be up for rounds of golf with President Barack Obama, but emphasizes that he is healthy and still drives himself — and he has a 94-year-old "lady friend."
He told the ABC affiliate that he has no idea what his secret to living a long life is, but that it could be because he never "smoked, drank, or chased women."
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