Last month, the centrist Modern Whig Party won its first political race when Robert “Heshy” Bucholz was elected Judge of Elections for the Fifth Division of the 56th Ward in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In a partisan election in a Democratic Party stronghold, Bucholz defeated the Democratic Party nominee by a margin of 36 to 24 votes.
After reading about his victory, I contacted Bucholz and asked a few questions to obtain more information about his personal background, the duties of his office, his political future, and what third party candidates can learn from his election.
William S. Saturn: As a relatively unknown figure, what is the most important aspect of your background that people should know about?
Robert “Heshy” Bucholz: I’m not a professional politician or pundit. I’m just an ordinary citizen who stepped up when I saw a need and anyone can make a difference. You don’t need a big party machine backing you to make a change at the local level and as Tip O’Neill said, “all politics are local.”
WSS: Of all the available parties, why did you choose the Modern Whig Party?
Bucholz: The Modern Whig Party (MWP) stands for progress through compromise and consensus instead of ideological intransigents. The two major parties currently in control accuse each other of trying to destroy the American way of life and cannot work with each other even on trivial matters where they agree.
The MWP platform is arrived at by consensus and input from all our members and not by a platform committee in a smoke filled room. This results in positions that are moderate and common sense and reflects beliefs that most Americans would identify with.
WSS: Do you personally identify with any figures from the Whig Party of the 19th Century?
Bucholz: I do subscribe to Whiggism that believes that our elected representatives are the closest expression of the will of the people and it is the job of the Executive branch to work with and execute the will of Congress and the Judiciary to interpret the will of Congress. Our current state of politics has each branch of government pitted against the other instead of exercising their powers toward their common goals.
WSS: How do people react when you tell them about your party affiliation?
Bucholz: Most want to know how we got such a funny name. Those that know our history are surprised that we’re around but our ideals and principles are still relevant.
WSS: How were you able to convince people to vote for you rather than the Democratic Party candidate?
Bucholz: It is true that many people in my district tend to vote along party lines regardless of the individual candidate. I ran on the issues and took the time to explain my positions. The old-fashioned door-to-door campaigning is still the most effective way to run for local office.
WSS: You have been compared to former Thompson Township Tax Accessor Jim Hedges of the Prohibition Party, who is also from Pennsylvania. Do you know anything about him?
Bucholz: While the Prohibition Party is also a third party with deep historical roots in American history they tend to have legislative focus on single issues of vice and morality.
WSS: Is there anything third party candidates can learn from your campaign?
Bucholz: When someone tells you that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote you’ll now have an example where people stood against the status quo.
WSS: What are the duties of Judge of Elections?
Bucholz: We are charged with running the poll site and maintaining the integrity of the election.
WSS: Will party affiliation have any effect on your performance as Judge of Elections?
Bucholz: As a public officer with no affiliation in either major party, I am the ideal candidate to oversee an election. Anything broken in a democracy can be fixed by an election but if elections are broken, than you don’t have a democracy.
WSS: Do you have any future political aspirations, perhaps a run for the Modern Whig Party’s 2016 presidential nomination?
Bucholz: At the moment, I’m focused on my day job. If I do run for higher office, it’ll likely be a local office where I can do the most good.