NEWCASTLE, Maine — A Newcastle man hopes to draw attention to some relatively obscure issues — and win a few votes — with his candidacy for U.S. president.
Morrison Bonpasse, 67, is an activist, author and businessman. Locals likely know Bonpasse as a two-time Democratic candidate for the Maine House of Representatives and a steadfast opponent to a Route 1 bypass around downtown Wiscasset.
Bonpasse is one of 207 candidates —- most relative unknowns — to file with the Federal Elections Commission so far. He plans to campaign in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, which will take place in February 2016.
Bonpasse is realistic about his hopes for the presidency.
“The chances of getting anybody’s nomination are miniscule,” he said. “I’m campaigning in order to present to the people some issues, which I think are of great importance, and if it resonates, that would be great.”
His platform includes three core aims: to end wrongful convictions, to achieve zero population growth, and to develop a single global currency.
Bonpasse estimates the rate of wrongful convictions in the U.S. at 2 percent in his book “80 Proposals to Stop Wrongful Convictions Before the End of this Decade.” This rate would place some 30,000 innocent people in prison.
Bonpasse believes the U.S. could reduce this rate to 0.1 percent. He is calling for more use of DNA collection and testing and more use of polygraph exams, among other reforms.
Bonpasse holds a state license as a private investigator and advocates for the “wrongly convicted” through the nonprofit Bonpasse Exoneration Services. His clients Chad Evans and Alfred Trenkler are the subjects of four of his eight books.
Bonpasse’s second core issue is to stabilize the world population, the subject of a book due in June, “Too Many Humans! – The Imperative to Achieve Zero Population Growth and then Population Reduction to One Billion.”
The earth cannot sustain its current population of more than 7 billion, Bonpasse said. The death rate already exceeds the birth rate in several countries in Asia and Europe, and Bonpasse would like to see this trend spread around the world.
“A large number of births each year come from unintended pregnancies, so we need to increase the availability and effectiveness of contraceptives, and we also need to increase the availability of abortion services,” he said.
His third primary campaign issue is to establish a single global currency in order to “enhance the stability of the global financial system” and reduce its cost, according to his campaign literature.
The issue is the subject of another of his books, “The Single Global Currency: Common Cents for the World.” He is the founder of the nonprofit Single Global Currency Association.
The rest of his platform addresses issues from the metric system to Palestine.
Much of the platform is predictable for a progressive Democrat. Bonpasse opposes capital punishment and nuclear proliferation, supports a carbon tax and renewable energy, and wants to eliminate homelessness and overturn Citizens United.
Other planks sound more like the positions of a libertarian or right-wing Republican.
Bonpasse wants to legalize, regulate, and tax recreational drugs and use some of the tax revenue to provide substance abuse treatment. He would aggressively target the national debt, generally a conservative talking point.
Bonpasse will primarily campaign from his home office in Newcastle, although he plans some trips to New Hampshire.
He plans to participate in a forum for “lesser-known” candidates at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in December. He does not expect invitations to more mainstream debates.
He will address a rotary club April 14 and book more speaking engagements if there is interest. He does not plan to spend heavily to make his case. The campaign bank account “has very few contributions so far,” he said.
He will measure success primarily in the awareness he brings to his core issues, and would love to see the major candidates field questions about any of the three issues.
How far Bonpasse will go “depends on the support that comes,” he said. “If people join the campaign and get interested because they believe in these issues, then we’ll see where it goes.” He does plan to run in the Maine caucus.
Bonpasse admits that he occasionally sees himself as president during his private moments. “The thought does occur to me that I might win,” he said. “Clearly it’s not realistic, but stranger things have happened.”
Bonpasse was born in Boston Nov. 22, 1947, and grew up in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
He graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Yale University, master’s degrees in business administration and public administration from Babson College and Northeastern University, respectively; and a law degree from Boston University Law School.
Bonpasse left Yale in February 1968 to volunteer for the U.S. Army. He was in the Army until 1971 with the 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Devens, Massachusetts.
Bonpasse worked in human resources for much of his professional career. He and his wife often vacationed in Maine and moved to Newcastle full time in 2000.
Bonpasse recently started Maine Cork Co. to import cork from Portugal to New England for use in flooring, insulation, and other applications.
Bonpasse ran for the Maine House of Representatives in 2000 and 2002, losing lopsided contests to incumbent Boothbay Harbor Republican Ken Honey. Newcastle was in a district with Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Edgecomb, and Southport at the time.
Bonpasse has been an outspoken advocate for non-bypass solutions to the perennial traffic gridlock in Wiscasset, such as off-street parking, pedestrian tunnels under Main Street, and the relocation of Red’s Eats.
He has written and self-published eight books with a ninth on the way, including seven non-fiction books about his campaign issues, a novel, and a novella. He is mulling a concept for a 10th book – another volume on wrongful convictions.
Bonpasse lives on the Sheepscot River with his wife, Leah Sprague. He has two children and five step-grandchildren.