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The Prohibition Party's presidential candidate seeks first win in 13 races

By JOHN J. SANKO

DENVER -- The Prohibition Party's presidential candidate, Earl F. Dodge, says he doesn't have feelings of rejection, which he acknowledges is a good thing for a man who has been rejected for political office 12 times.

The 50-year-old father of seven is seeking the presidency in his 13th race under the Prohibition Party label, a cause to which he has devoted more than half his life.

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President Reagan, Walter Mondale, John Glenn and the other major party candidates may not have cause to worry, but Dodge, a quiet but non-stop talker, is deadly serious. He has a message and he wants folks to hear him.

'I don't get disillusioned,' Dodge said. 'The only disappointment I have ... is the fact a majority of people go to the polls basically holding their noses and voting for what they perceive as the lesser of two evils.

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'They don't vote because they're really thrilled about the hero of 'Bedtime for Bonzo' or the peanut farmer. It's because they perceive one person is worse than the other.

'That self-defeats what they believe in. There are millions of people who believe as we do, including prohibition. If those people voted for us, we would elect, as we did in years past, many of our people and make such an impact nationally the major parties would have to change their policies.'

Dodge said the media haven't helped the party's cause. When photographers show up at party meetings, they concentrate on the old folks and ignore the younger crowd. He said it tends to give the party an over-the-hill appearance.

The news media also likes to stress the party's anti-alcohol theme. Sure, the party is against alcohol, but it has many other issues, Dodge said.

It is strongly anti-abortion; it's an outspoken advocate of separation of church and state; it's anti-communist, opposes monopolies, forced busing, pornography, gambling and narcotics.

It was the first to fight for the women's right to vote, he said, and was called 'ultra-liberal' because it was the first to seek workmen's compensation and antitrust laws.

The party's headquarters, shared with the anti-abortion Colorado Right to Life Committee, which Dodge also helps direct, are in a cramped two-story office near downtown Denver.

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The office walls are filled with campaign buttons of all parties and posters from bygone years when the fight against Demon Rum was more popular. Dodge loves showing them off to visitors, including the temperance posters depicting 'The Brewers' Big Horses' running over men and women in the streets and another that labels a bar as 'The Poison Shop.'

Dodge, in Prohibition Party politics since 1953, was selected its presidential candidate in June during its national convention in Mandan, N.D. It was held in the Lewis and Clark Hotel 'because it's dry.' His running mate is a retired probation officer, Warren Martin, from Junction City, Kan.

Running for political office is nothing new. Dodge also has run for vice president twice; governor of Colorado three times; the city commission in Kalamazoo, Mich; the U.S. Senate from Kansas; city council, Congress and county commission seats in Indiana; and for the Governor's Council and secretary of state in Massachussetts.

His closet shot at victory came when he got 40 percent of the vote in races for local office in Winona Lake, Ind., where the Prohibition Party once was headquartered, and in Kalamazoo, Mich.

In order to change the image of Prohibitionists as a one-issue party, it ran nationally under the name of the 'Statesman Party' in 1980. It was an 'absolute flop' and convinced supporters to keep the name the party has used since 1869.

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Dodge said the party -- which last elected someone on the party ticket in the 1960s to local office in Kansas -- has a hard-core support group of about 1,000.

It is largely from their contributions the party will raise $50,000 to $60,000 a year. That money will be used to help pay Dodge's salary to run the headquarter's office, rental space, and equipment costs.

Dodge said he knows he's never going to get rich at the job and doesn't expect to. He said he loves what he is doing and never plans to quit.

'Over the years there have been a few times when I started to think, 'I'm giving my life to this and so few people see it as I do, am I really accomplishing what I want to accomplish?'' he said.

'But then I think, suppose tomorrow the Prohibition Party closed up shop ... What would that leave? It would mean those people, however few in number, who want to vote this way would be denied that right.

'It would also mean there would be issues that for sure nobody else would ever address. The alternative is just unthinkable.'

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