Lenora Branch Fulani has spent almost three decades fighting to end the two-party system and create a “viable, national, pro-socialist” party for those who feel ignored by the Democratic and Republican parties. Fulani ran for the presidency in 1988 and 1992.
A scholarship student at Long Island’s Hofstra University, she graduated in 1971 and then earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the City University of New York, where she was much influenced by Dr. Fred Newman, who would serve as both a mentor and her campaign manager. While a guest researcher at Rockefeller University, she joined Newman’s New York Institute for Social Therapy and Research and his New Alliance Party (NAP).
Fulani became the party’s most prominent -- and controversial -- spokesperson. In 1982, she was its candidate for lieutenant governor of New York; in 1985, she ran as it nominee for mayor of New York City; and the following year, was the NAP’s candidate for governor.
She co-founded and chaired the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, and in 2004, spearheaded ChIP, “Choosing an Independent President.” It was ChIP that convinced Ralph Nadar to run as an independent candidate for president; the 90,000+ votes that Nadar won in Florida cost Democrat Al Gore the White House, as the Supreme Court gave the 537 disputed ballots (and all of Florida’s electoral votes) to Republican George W. Bush.
Fulani went to court more than ten times within two decades in her crusade to open ballots to independents, protect the rights of radicals and minorities, and challenge state regulations that limit third parties. She felt that she achieved a goal in 2005, when 47% of black voters in New York City broke with their traditional Democratic Party to help elect Independent Mike Bloomberg, a billionaire endorsed by Fulani and the Independence Party of New York, as mayor.