Running For Congress At Age 101

Joe Newman, 101, is running for a seat in the House of Representatives from Florida's 16th congressional district. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with the candidate.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I don't know about you but if I make it to the age of 100, I plan on spending my time in some beach town with a lot of friends and family, a pile of books and the occasional highball. In other words, I would plan to relax. Joe Newman is not that kind of centenarian. The resident of Sarasota, Florida is running for Congress at the age of 101. Candidate Joe Newman joins me from his campaign headquarters. Thanks so much for being here, Mr. Newman.

JOE NEWMAN: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So, how in the world did you come to this decision? I mean, what made you think this is it, this is my year? I'm 101 and this is when I want to run for a seat in the House of Representatives?

NEWMAN: Hey, it sort of builds. It doesn't hurt to have another voice. I'm part of a couple of discussion groups and we're constantly discussing issues and bewailing what's going on. And so I finally decided with consulting with some of the others that perhaps my age would attract some attention and we would be heard.

MARTIN: Well, but I have to ask you: is this just kind of a gimmick or if you won would you be ready to serve?

NEWMAN: Well, maybe it's started out as a gimmick but we're finding that the reception is such that maybe it's more important than a gimmick. And that even though I'm 101 and perhaps would like to do, as you say, sit back and have a highball, look in the mirror and saying is there something you can do about this and then say, yes, there is.

MARTIN: You have liberal views but you are running as an Independent in a district that the Cooke Political Report calls solidly Republican. So, what do you think your chances are?

NEWMAN: Well, the chances are slim. But the chances are worse if we don't speak out. And so our goal is to tell people to look what's going on - look at the school bus, watch the kids coming off; what's there for them? What kind of society - not government - what kind of society are we making? And you have to ask yourself that question and then decide whether, do you have a role in it or do you not have a role in it?

MARTIN: Joe Newman, a candidate for the House of Representatives in Florida's 16th congressional district. Thank you so much for speaking with us, Mr. Newman.

NEWMAN: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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