Bill Maher (No, Not That One) Was Arizona's Most Successful Third-Party Candidate

Attention Charles Sheen, Tomás Cruz, Bartholomew Simpson, and other people with near-celebrity names: it's time to run for public office.

One example of why that may be a good idea is Bill Maher. No, not Bill Maher, but Bill Maher -- the Green Party's state House candidate in Legislative District 16, who was probably the most successful third-party candidate in the state this election.

The local Maher got a higher share of the vote in his race -- 7.83 percent -- than any other Green Party candidate in the state.

Maher actually got more votes (9,094) from voters in his legislative district than the Green Party's presidential candidate, Jill Stein, got in the entire state (7,816). Maher was running in a pretty Republican district, too -- one that sent a Republican senator and two Republican representatives to the Legislature.

Out of all the statewide races with a true third-party candidate -- a race with a Democrat, a Republican, and at least one minor-party candidate -- Maher scored the highest percentage of votes among third-party people.

How much of Maher's success does he owe to the name William Maher? We'll have to assume "a lot," because he didn't return a message we left for him last week.

But the Arizona Americans Elect Party said it endorsed Maher in LD-16, specifically, "comedian Bill Maher," along with a photo of the guy with the show on HBO.

Sure, a lot of people might vote for the guy whose name sounds awfully familiar -- which was probably how Terry Goddard dominated the race for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District board of directors -- but really? A Green Party candidate named Bill Maher?

He didn't take any contributions, had five "likes" on his Facebook page, and claimed to have one whole yard sign -- so we're thinking the name had something to do with it.

On the other hand, Bill Gates, a non-billionaire Democrat running for state Senate in LD-17, lost by a much larger margin than his Democratic counterpart in the House race, who didn't have a famous name. Still, it might be good for a few extra votes.