Weird History

Behind The Scenes Of "Freak Power," Hunter S. Thompson's Campaign For Sheriff Of Aspen

You might not expect a wealthy skiing town and famed Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson to have a long history together. However, Thompson and Aspen, CO, go back all the way to 1967. At the height of the hippie peace movement, Thompson found himself in a city divided, and he wanted to lead the way into a progressive future. The writer ran for sheriff and made a slew of ludicrous promises that frightened some and excited others.

While many new voters applauded Thompson's willingness to embrace progressive ideas, others were terrified by his radical viewpoints and Democrats and Republicans eventually banded together to make sure Thompson wasn't elected. Things got contentious, and on the night of the election, armed guards patrolled Thompson's ranch to stop would-be assailants from making good on their death threats. 

Thompson's political campaign was as amusing as it was heavily contested, and when all was said and done the results were closer than many imagined possible. On top of spawning yet another wild Thompson story, an explosive Rolling Stone article, and the fascinating retrospective Freak Power - Hunter S. Thompson's Campaign for Sheriff by Daniel Joseph Watkins, echoes of Thompson's legislative aims - from cannabis legalization to limiting land developer rights - resonate throughout contemporary politics.