Boneham formed an exploratory committee in August to determine whether there would be enough interest in his campaign for him to mount a successful bid for governor.
He announced this weekend he determined there would be.
No other Libertarian candidates are currently running for the nomination.
Boneham is most famous for his time on the reality television show “Survivor,” having appeared in three seasons.
“It’s time for a change in Indiana,” Boneham said. “Hoosiers have consistently voted in professional politicians, and look at the results. Hoosiers should have a different choice in 2012.”
Boneham said he plans to run with a campaign platform of limited government interference in economic and social issues.
“I have only one interest: empowering Hoosiers to give back to their communities,” Boneham said in a speech announcing his candidacy. “If the government puts up roadblocks, then they should be repealed.”
The former “Survivor” star touted his experience running small businesses and nonprofit organizations as proof he knows what needs to be done to govern Indiana.
“Many people are aware of me through one small aspect of my life, which was my time on ‘Survivor,’ Boneham said.
"I’ve come up from humble beginnings to own and operate several small businesses. I was then on this reality TV show that allowed me a platform to raise money for my charity, Rupert’s Kids.”
Boneham used part of his $1 million check from “Survivor” to create Rupert’s Kids, a nonprofit organization that serves at-risk youth who are too old for the youth social services system but too young for the adult social services system.
Rupert’s Kids formed a partnership with Indianapolis to create the Park Adoption Program, which Boneham said has saved taxpayers $150,000 and provides a safe environment for at-risk children.
“Through that work, I’ve been blessed, and I’ve put almost everything back in to my community,” Boneham said. “I am looking forward to telling Hoosiers my entire story.”
In an after-show contest, Rupert received 34 million out of 38 million viewers’ votes to win $1 million, the highest vote total for any reality television voting contest.
Boneham became beloved by many fans of the show for his boisterous personality and big heart.
During one season, Boneham raided the shoes of the opposing tribe and used them to barter for goods.
In another, he rescued an injured sea snake and tried to nurse it back to health.
Boneham was born in Detroit, and his family moved to Kokomo early in his life. He later moved to Indianapolis and has lived there most of his life.
The Libertarian Party is the strongest third party in Indiana and the only third party to have ballot access in the state, meaning its candidates are automatically placed on the ballot.
The party has also seen an uptick in support in Indiana since the financial crisis of 2009. In the 2008 gubernatorial election, the Libertarian candidate received only 2 percent of the votes.
In the 2010 congressional election, Indiana Libertarian candidates for Congress received more than 5 percent of the vote in four of Indiana’s nine congressional races and more than 4 percent in two others.
The Libertarian Party will decide upon its nominee during a nominating convention on April 14 in Indianapolis.
Sam Goldstein, the state chair of the Libertarian Party, reacted positively to Boneham’s announcement.
“I am very excited that Rupert has decided to contend for the LPIN nomination for governor in 2012,” Goldstein said.
“I look forward to working with him and his campaign team should he win the nomination at our convention next spring.”
— Zach Ammerman
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