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Shawn O’Hara, perennial candidate in Mississippi, dies at 60

November 24, 2018

In this Aug. 2, 2018, file photograph, Shawn O'Hara, a Reform Party candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Roger Wicker, speaks at one of the biggest political events of the year in the state, the Neshoba County Fair, in Philadelphia, Miss. O'Hara, a Mississippi man who ran dozens of eccentric and unsuccessful races for governor, U.S. senator and other offices under different party labels, was found dead Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, at age 60. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man who ran dozens of eccentric and unsuccessful races for governor, U.S. senator and other offices under different party labels has died at age 60.

Shawn O’Hara was found dead Tuesday at home in Hattiesburg, Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict said Friday. The date of death was not immediately known, but O’Hara died of natural causes, Benedict said.

O’Hara was known for low-budget campaigns consisting of little more than hand-written flyers with promises to legalize marijuana, lower gas prices or establish a series of snow-cone stands to fund state services.

His most recent election loss was on Nov. 6, when he ran as a Reform Party candidate for U.S. Senate. O’Hara received less than 1 percent in a three-person race won by Republican incumbent Roger Wicker.

O’Hara described himself as a business consultant and movie producer. He also self-published several short books.

In 2007, he signed up to run as a Democrat for eight statewide offices at the same time — governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, insurance commissioner and agriculture commissioner. He also tried to run that year for two regional offices, two legislative seats and eight Forrest County offices. O’Hara didn’t qualify to run for attorney general because he didn’t have a law license, and the state Democratic Party told him he could run for only one office at a time. O’Hara appealed to a circuit court and a judge told him to pick one, so O’Hara ran for treasurer and lost.

When he ran for U.S. Senate under the Reform Party label in 2014, O’Hara said he wanted to abolish the Senate and restore Col. Rebel as the mascot at the University of Mississippi. School officials retired the bearded old man in 2003 amid concerns that he was reminiscent of a plantation master. Although senators don’t set school mascots, O’Hara asserted that they could decide the matter because the university receives federal money.

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