Hunter S. Thompson Runs for Aspen, Colorado Sheriff on the “Freak Power” Platform (1970)

In 1970, Hunter S. Thomp­son was look­ing to become the new sher­iff in town — the town being Aspen, Col­orado. In a heat­ed elec­tion, Thomp­son ran against a tra­di­tion­al, con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­ate, Car­rol Whit­mire, on what he called the “freak pow­er” plat­form, which most­ly called for the legal­iza­tion of mar­i­jua­na and uncon­ven­tion­al envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions.

As Thomp­son lat­er explained in his essay “Freak Pow­er in The Rock­ies,” hun­dreds of Haight-Ash­bury refugees moved to Aspen after the ill-fat­ed “Sum­mer of Love” in 1967, and they became part of the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion. In the town, reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans his­tor­i­cal­ly out­weighed reg­is­tered Democ­rats by a two-to-one mar­gin.

But both camps were out­weighed by inde­pen­dents, which includ­ed “a jan­gled mix of Left/Crazies and Birchers; cheap big­ots, dope deal­ers, nazi ski instruc­tors and spaced off ‘psy­che­del­ic farm­ers’ with no pol­i­tics at all beyond self-preser­va­tion,” remem­bers Thomp­son. So, win­ning an elec­tion came down to reg­is­ter­ing indie vot­ers and get­ting them to the polls — some­thing that was eas­i­er said than done, it turns out.

In the short term, Hunter S. Thomp­son lost the “Bat­tle of Aspen” by 300–500 votes, depend­ing on whose accounts you read. In the long-term, he arguably won. 42 years after Thomp­son made the legal­iza­tion of mar­i­jua­na his cen­tral cam­paign promise, Col­orado vot­ers passed Amend­ment 64, legal­iz­ing mar­i­jua­na for recre­ation­al use. Some­where, the would-be gonzo politi­cian is smil­ing.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hunter S. Thomp­son Inter­views Kei­th Richards, and Very Lit­tle Makes Sense

Hunter S. Thomp­son Calls Tech Sup­port, Unleash­es a Tirade Full of Fear and Loathing (NSFW)

John­ny Depp Reads Let­ters from Hunter S. Thomp­son (NSFW)

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