Jennifer Brown  /  The Star-Ledger
Herbert Shaw, Hudson County's 81-year-old perennial candidate, has run for office on the "Politicians Are Crooks" ticket for around 50 straight years. He sits in his kitchen with the new sample ballot on the table. Last year he lost the Sheriff race, and now he's put his name in for 32nd District State Senate. He never wins but keeps running. staff and news service reports
updated 11/9/2011 4:59:04 PM ET 2011-11-09T21:59:04

There's no quit in Herbert Shaw, who has run for office in every election held in Hudson County, N.J., over the last half a century. All but once, the result has been the same — defeat.

The outcome of Tuesday's vote for the 32nd District State Senate seat will be no different for  the silver-haired and bearded 81-year-old granddad, who campaigns on the "Politicians are Crooks" ticket. He'll lose, yet again.

"It doesn't mean anything if I lose an election," Shaw told the Star-Ledger earlier this week. "I always say I haven't lost an election, the people have."

Throughout the decades, the independent's name has appeared on the ballot for numerous posts: School board, state Assembly, House of Representatives, even U.S. Senate.

Shaw told the New Jersey newspaper he operates his campaign office from his North Bergen home, which he shares with his wife, three daughters, several grandchildren and pet terriers, and plans to keep vying for public office.

"My motive is revenge," Shaw told the reporter.

His current opponent, Democratic incumbent Nicholas Sacco, said he's thankful for rivals like Shaw.

"It's healthy to a democracy to have Herb Shaws out there," Sacco told the Star-Ledger. "For example, when you do the Pledge of Allegiance at a meeting, when you get to 'and justice for all,' he yells out, 'Sometimes!' That's just Herb."

Shaw is one of many perennial candidates who keep going year after year despite getting walloped on election nights, experts say.

"It's almost their civic response, duty," said Tim Hagle, a professor of political science at the University of Iowa. "Instead of giving up on the entire system, they’re saying, 'I am going to put my foot in the water' and 'I am going to take a stand.'"

And sometimes, they get lucky.

Shaw has won one election in his life — a local Republican committeeman's seat — "and that was only because the establishment was so disorganized," he told the Star-Ledger.

Among the better known perennial candidates of recent years:

Harold Stassen
The former governor of Minnesota and World War II veteran who earned a reputation as "boy wonder" ran for president so many times that there is disagreement on how many unsuccessful campaigns he ran, according to National Public Radio.

"He made stabs at winning the nomination in 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1988, each with varying degrees of effectiveness and enthusiasm," The New York Times reported. The Minnesota Historical Society claimed he ran at least 10 times. He died in 2001. He was 93.

Lyndon LaRouche
LaRouche ran for president at least eight times, first announcing his bid in 1976. He tried again every election since then, including a 1992 campaign from prison while serving five years of a 15-year sentence for mail fraud and defaulting on more than $30 million in loans from campaign supporters.

LaRouche promoted himself a "Roosevelt Democrat" and believed the country needed another New Deal, moving the nation from a consumer-based economy to a manufacturing one.

Bob Kelleher of Montana
The bushy-browed lawyer ran for state office 16 times between 1964 and 2008, mostly as a Democrat. He won the six-way Republican primary nomination for U.S. Senate in 2008, but lost to Sen. Max Baucus in the general election.

In 1971, Kelleher was elected as one of the 100 delegates to the Montana Constitutional Convention, where he fought unsuccessfully for Montana to switch to a one-house parliamentary form of government. He died in May at age 88.

Click here to view The Star-Ledger's video on Shaw.'s Sevil Omer, The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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