Oregon Libertarian, 1st woman to receive electoral vote, dead at 91

Oregon Libertarian, 1st woman to receive electoral vote, dead at 91
Tonie Nathan

EUGENE, Ore. - Theodora "Tonie" Nathan, a University of Oregon graduate who became the first woman in U.S. history to ever receive an electoral vote, died Thursday.

She was 91.

Nathan worked as a TV producer for KVAL when she was selected as the Libertarian Party candidate for vice president in 1972. She was a founding member of the party.

Republican Virginia elector Roger L. MacBride, who later switched his affiliation to Libertarian, chose to vote for Libertarians John Hospers and Nathan rather than Nixon and Agnew.

"It is with sadness we learn the news of the passing of our friend Tonie Nathan, a great and history-making Libertarian," said Geoffrey J. Neale, chair of the Libertarian National Committee. "We celebrate her life and her accomplishments."

The vote made Nathan the first woman in U.S. history to receive an electoral vote in the Electoral College, more than a decade ahead of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.

She was also the first Jewish person in America to receive an electoral vote and to gain a nomination to run as vice president.

Nathan continued to run for state and federal office in Oregon as a Libertarian.

In the 1980 U.S. Senate election in Oregon, Nathan participated in three statewide television debates with then–Sen. Bob Packwood and then–state Sen. Ted Kulongoski. She received 43,686 votes.

In 1990, Nathan ran as a Libertarian candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives for Oregon's 4th congressional district. She was the lone challenger to incumbent congressman Peter DeFazio. She received 26,432 votes, 14 percent of the vote.

She was a speaker at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, where she announced Gary Johnson as the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee.

Nathan earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. She operated her own insurance agency, a music publishing firm, and a decorating service in the Los Angeles area of California before moving to Eugene, Ore.

Nathan married Charles "Chuck" Nathan, an ASCAP composer who wrote top-10 hit songs in the 1950s. The couple had three sons, Paul, Larry, and Greg Nathan.