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Running for First: Activist Ellis Boal running for Congress a fourth time

Ellis Boal

Congressional candidate Ellis Boal has lived a life of political activism. The labor attorney was arrested while protesting at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. At the time he was a cab driver living in Chicago. 

“I spent the night in jail,” Boal says, “and heard the acceptance speech of Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, from jail.”


Boal once posed for a photo with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He even played in a band that was the warm up act for Bernie Sanders 30 years ago. 

Boal, who has lived in Charlevoix since 2000, has also been a mainstay on ballots in northern Michigan. He is running as the Green Party candidate for the 1st Congressional District for the fourth time in a row.

Boal has collected around one percent of the vote in each election, but he says he’s not in the race to win.

Ellis Boal was arrested at the Democratic National Convention in 1968.

“There’s two reasons for anyone to become involved in politics and run for office,” Boal says. “One is to try to win the seat, and the other is to discuss public issues.” 

“That’s why I’m here today, to discuss public issues.”

Boal says his legislative priorities would be installing single-payer health care and closing U.S. military bases around the world. He says he would also tackle climate change.

“I don’t think legislation [on climate change] is the most important thing,” Boal says. “As a representative … I would just take a stand and urge my colleagues to do the same and get a stronger international agreement.”

Boal has three opponents on the November 8 ballot: Republican Jack Bergman, Democrat Lon Johnson and Libertarian Diane Bostow. 


Listen to an extended interview with Ellis Boal.