John B. Anderson was born and raised in Rockford. In 1960, he was elected to Congress representing Illinois' 16th district. He held that position for ten years, before entering the presidential race in 1980.
Anderson ran as an independent, against Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Even though Reagan won the race, Anderson made a strong showing. Midway Village Museum Curator of Education Mark Herman says, "He was the first serious independent candidate. He got 7% of the vote which is over 6 million votes." Midway Village Museum has a unique display featuring Rockford's one and only presidential candidate. "We have debate buttons with Reagan. We have Newsweek Magazine cover about the Anderson factor about having a third party candidate...Time magazine." Along with all kinds of campaign memorabilia from Frisbees to bumper stickers.
Anderson went on to become a visiting professor at a series of universities.