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Frank J. Vondersaar

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Frank J. Vondersaar (October 4, 1950-September 12, 2014[1][2]) was an American perennial candidate for federal office in Alaska.[3] A 2016 article stated that he held the record for most failed attempts (six) to be elected to a United States Senate seat from Alaska.[4] Though he gained the Democratic nomination for US Senate in 2002, he did not have the support of the Alaska Democratic Party.[5] During that run he earned only 10.5% of the vote in the general election, the second worst showing in Alaska state history.[4] He claimed to be "tortured and terrorized as a political prisoner" for over 30 years.[6][7][5] CNN called him Ted Stevens's "whacky Democratic challenger" during the 2002 campaign.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Kokomo, Indiana, to John and Susanna Vondersaar, he attended Kokomo High School from 1965 to 1968.[6][7] He then attended Purdue University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in engineering in 1972, the Air Force Institute of Technology where he received a master of science in nuclear engineering in 1974, and the Air Command and Staff College where he received a certificate in 1986.[6][7] Vondersaar received an MBA from Troy University in 1986 and a law degree from the University of Dayton in 1989.[6][7]

Adult life[edit]

Vondersaar moved to Homer, Alaska in 1978.[6] In 1981 he became a professional engineer in Alaska, and in 1989 was admitted to the Alaska Bar Association.[6][7] His career as a commercial pilot and flight instructor ended in 1986.[6] He had one daughter, Sarah.[7]

As a volunteer, Vondersaar served on the board of National Public Radio member radio station KBBI, with Cook Inletkeeper, the Salvation Army, the Friends of the Homer Library, the Pratt Museum, the Seaplane Pilots Association, and on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management's Community Emergency Response Team.[6][7][7]

Vondersaar served for 13 years in the United States Air Force, reaching the rank of major.[6][7] At the end of his military career, he complained to superiors that he was under surveillance.[6] He was placed for six months in a psychiatric ward in Eglin Air Force Base before going on 18 months of medical leave.[9] He was then discharged.[9] After that, he claimed to being harassed by secret police, but could never offer any proof of their existence.[7][9]

Electoral career[edit]

Vondersaar ran for the United States Senate in 1992, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2008, and 2010. He also ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 2006, 2012, and 2014. The Washington Post singled his out as one of the worst campaign websites of 2014;[10] Slate called in "cryptic" in 2002.[11]

1992[edit]

Open primary results[12]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tony Smith 33,162 44.81%
Democratic William L. Hensley 29,586 39.98%
Green Mary Jordan 5,989 8.09%
Democratic Michael Beasley 2,657 3.59%
Democratic Joseph Sonneman 1,607 2.17%
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 1,000 1.35%
Total votes 74,001 100.00%

1996[edit]

Open primary results[13]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ted Stevens (Incumbent) 71,043 58.87%
Republican Dave W. Cuddy 32,994 27.34%
Democratic Theresa Obermeyer 4,072 3.37%
Green Jed Whittaker 3,751 3.11%
Democratic Joseph A. Sonneman 2,643 2.19%
Democratic Michael Beasley 1,968 1.63%
Democratic Henry J. Blake, Jr. 1,157 0.96%
Democratic Lawrence Freiberger 921 0.76%
Republican Charles E. McKee 842 0.70%
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 655 0.54%
Democratic Robert Alan Gigler 631 0.52%
Total votes 138,492 100.00%

1998[edit]

Open primary results[14]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Frank Murkowski (Incumbent) 76,649 71.76%
Democratic Joseph Sonneman 10,721 10.04%
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 6,342 5.94%
Republican William L. Hale 6,313 5.91%
Green Jeffrey Gottlieb 4,796 4.49%
Libertarian Scott A. Kohlhaas 1,987 1.86%
Total votes 106,808 100.00%

2002[edit]

Democratic primary results[15]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 18,256 66.27%
Democratic Theresa Obermeyer 9,292 33.73%
Total votes 27,548 100.00%


United States Senate election in Alaska, 2002[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Ted Stevens (Incumbent) 179,438 78.17% +1.46%
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 24,133 10.51% +0.17%
Green Jim Sykes 16,608 7.24% -5.29%
Alaskan Independence Jim Dore 6,724 2.93%
Libertarian Leonard Karpinski 2,354 1.03%
Write-ins 291 0.13%
Majority 155,305 67.66% +3.47%
Turnout 229,548
Republican hold Swing

2006[edit]

Combined Party primary results[17]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Diane E. Benson 19,421 40.41
Democratic Ray Metcalfe 16,529 34.40
Green Eva L. Ince 3,620 7.53
Libertarian Alexander Crawford 3,176 6.61
Democratic Todd Hyde 2,482 5.16
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 2,141 4.46
Libertarian Sol L. Gerstenfeld 687 1.43
Total votes 48,056 100.00

2008[edit]

Alaska ADL senatorial primary, 2008[18]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Begich 63,747 84.12%
Democratic Ray Metcalfe 5,480 7.23%
Alaskan Independence Bob Bird 4,216 5.56%
Libertarian Fredrick Haase 1,375 1.81%
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 965 1.27%
Total votes 75,783 100.00%

2010[edit]

Primary results[19][20]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Scott McAdams 18,035 49.99%
Democratic Jacob Seth Kern 6,913 19.16%
Libertarian David Haase 5,793 16.06%
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 5,339 14.80%
Total votes 36,080 100.00%
Turnout 32

2012[edit]

ADL combined primary results[21]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sharon Cissna 16,329 42.8
Democratic Matt Moore 7,374 19.3
Libertarian Jim McDermott 5,741 15.0
Democratic Debra Chesnut 5,626 14.7
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 2,085 5.5
Democratic Doug Urquidi 1,034 2.7
Total votes 38,189 100

2014[edit]

Democratic-Libertarian-Independence primary results[22]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Forrest Dunbar 38,735 63.19
Libertarian Jim McDermott 13,437 21.92
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 9,132 14.90
Total votes 61,304 100

References[edit]

  1. "Frank Vondersaar". Homer News. September 17, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  2. Carey, Michael (September 22, 2014). "Remembering perennial Alaska fringe candidate Frank Vondersaar". Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  3. "Alaska Races". Center for Politics. March 3, 2008. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ostermeier, Eric (September 8, 2016). "Joe Miller and a Brief History of Retread Alaska US Senate Candidates". Smart Politics. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "2002 Senate Races" (pdf). CBS News. p. 8. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 "United States Representative Frank J. Vondersaar, Democrat" (PDF). Alaska Division of Elections. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 Armstrong, Michael; Jackinsky, McKibben (September 17, 2014). "Vondersaar remembered as dependable volunteer". Homer News.
  8. Mercurio, John (November 1, 2002). "Fight for control of Senate intensifies". CNN. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Vondersaar For US House". September 22, 2013. Archived from the original on May 29, 2017. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  10. Becker, Alexander (June 20, 2014). "The awful campaign Web sites of 2014". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  11. Thompson, Nicholas (November 4, 2002). "No, Really, This One's a Net Election". Slate. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  12. http://www.elections.alaska.gov/results/92PRIM/92prim.pdf
  13. "Official State of Alaska - Primary : August 27, 1996". Elections.alaska.gov. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  14. http://www.elections.alaska.gov/results/98PRIM/results.pdf
  15. http://www.elections.alaska.gov/results/02PRIM/data/results.pdf
  16. http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/2002election.pdf
  17. http://www.elections.alaska.gov/results/06PRIM/data/results.pdf
  18. "Official Primary Election Results" (PDF). State of Alaska: Division of Elections. September 18, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 27, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2008.
  19. "State of Alaska 2010 Primary Election August 24, 2010 Unofficial Results". State of Alaska Division of Elections. August 25, 2010. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  20. Yardley, William (September 3, 2010). "Alaska Winner, Lover of Privacy, Loses His Own". The New York Times. (voter turnout for the primary)
  21. "State of Alaska 2012 Primary Election - August 28, 2012 - Official Results". State of Alaska Division of Elections. September 17, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  22. "2014 Primary Elections August 19, 2014 Official Results". State of Alaska Division of Elections. Retrieved 8 September 2014.


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