INDIANAPOLIS (CBS/AP) — Rupert Boneham may have been a fan favorite on “Survivor,” but would you vote for him as your governor? The reality show all-star run for governor of Indiana.
Boneham formed an exploratory committee Monday to possibly seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for governor.
He said on his campaign website that the current field of candidates doesn’t understand the problems average Hoosiers face. He talked about his extensive charity work on behalf of troubled teenagers as his chief qualification.
His charity, Rupert’s Kids, is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving young adults who have become too old for the youth social service system, but are not old enough for the adult social service system.
“He sees a lot of the same status quo politicians and the same platitudes we get every election cycle and he thinks we could be on the wrong track and he wants to make a difference,” said Sean Shepard, Boneham’s spokesman.
The bushy-bearded Boneham, known for wearing tie-dyeed shirts, competed in 2003 on “Survivor: Pearl Island” and has been on multiple “Survivor” follow-ups since then.
He was voted fan favorite in 2004’s “Survivor: All-Stars” and donated a portion of the $1 million he won to his charity, Rupert’s Kids. His Indianapolis-based charity provides mentoring and job-training to youths.
If he runs, Boneham will join a field dominated by Republican Congressman Mike Pence and former Democratic Indiana House Speaker John Gregg.
Boneham’s national fame could pigeonhole him, but people would learn to look past his stardom if he campaigned hard enough, said Chris Spangle, executive director of the Indiana Libertarian Party
“He would be a serious candidate, he would be someone that would really insert a lot of really fresh ideas into the debate,” Spangle said. “I think he would make the Republican and Democratic nominees work a little bit harder.”
While Pence and Boneham would likely agree on most fiscal issues, Libertarians tend to diverge with Republicans on personal choice issues including whether government should license marriages, Spangle said.
Indiana Republican Party spokesman Pete Seat said it remains to be seen if Boneham could survive a statewide contest.
“We’ll have to see if he has what it takes to survive on the island post-primary, but right now we are focused on the 2011 cycle,” Seat said.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker used the possibility of a Boneham run to take a shot at Pence.
“We welcome Rupert to the race if he decides to run. It’ll be nice to have someone else on the campaign trail who spends all his time in Indiana, not in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
The Libertarian Party will meet in April to pick its candidates for state offices, Spangle said.
Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels can’t run for re-election next year because of term limits.
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