Fred Tuttle

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Fred Tuttle
Fred tuttle.jpg
Born Frederick Herman Tuttle
(1919-07-18)July 18, 1919
Tunbridge, Vermont, U.S.
Died October 4, 2003(2003-10-04) (aged 84)
Tunbridge, Vermont, U.S.
Occupation Dairy farmer
Political party Republican
Dorothy Louise Savage (m. 1961)

Frederick Herman Tuttle (July 18, 1919 – October 4, 2003) was an American dairy farmer, actor, and Republican candidate for the United States Senate from Vermont in 1998.

Life and career

Tuttle was born in Tunbridge, Vermont, the son of Bessie Laura (Hoyt) and Joseph Charles Tuttle.[1] He lived in Tunbridge all his life, except for his service in the United States Army during World War II.

Tuttle left high school in his sophomore year to work on his family's farm. He married his wife Dorothy in 1961, and later retired from farming in 1984.

After his retirement, he appeared in several movies directed by Vermont filmmaker John O'Brien, including Nosey Parker and Man with a Plan. He starred in the latter, playing a retired farmer who decides to run for U.S. Representative from Vermont.

In 1998 Tuttle was persuaded to run in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. His opponent was Jack McMullen, a multi-millionaire who had lived in Massachusetts for most of his life. McMullen faced opposition from some Vermont Republicans who felt that he was a carpetbagger who apparently moved to Vermont for the sole purpose of establishing residency for a Senate run. The Vermont primary structure allows Democrats and Independents to vote in the Republican primary, and many people foresaw the possibility that Tuttle would beat McMullen by drawing votes across party lines. In addition, some may have hoped that a Tuttle campaign would help to publicize the film Man with a Plan.[2]

The ensuing campaign was remarkable in many ways. Tuttle campaigned on a platform that seemed absurdist by the standards of contemporary politics. McMullen and the state Republican Party challenged Tuttle's ballot petition and got 95 of his signatures invalidated. Tuttle needed 23 more to stay on the ballot and he received 2,309 more signatures. McMullen then gave flowers to Tuttle in the hospital while Tuttle was there for knee surgery.[3]

During the radio-broadcast debate, Tuttle asked a series of humorous local knowledge questions rather than political questions. McMullen was unable to correctly pronounce the names of several Vermont towns, or correctly answer Fred's question "How many teats a Holstein got?" answering "Six", instead of the correct "Four". In the primary, Tuttle defeated McMullen by ten percentage points. Winning the primary with 55 percent of the vote, Tuttle promptly endorsed the incumbent Democrat, Patrick Leahy.

Tuttle's election campaign against Democratic Senator Leahy, now his opponent in this U.S. Senate election, was notable for the continuing publicity Tuttle received and for his continued endorsement of Leahy, of whom Tuttle said, "He knows how many tits on a cow."[4] Tuttle commented that he did not really want to win because he would have to move to Washington, D.C.. Despite his endorsement of his opponent, Tuttle garnered 48,051 votes (22 percent of the vote) in the actual election.

Tuttle was described by Senator Leahy as "the distilled essence of Vermonthood". He was considered by many to be an example of both the "everyman" and of the unique individualist.

Tuttle died of a heart attack after a day spent digging potatoes, at his home in Tunbridge, Vermont. He was buried in his overalls, with a pen in his pocket for autograph signing and a can of Moxie by his side.[5][6][7]

Electoral history

Republican primary results[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Fred Tuttle 28,355 53.69%
Republican Jack McMullen 23,321 44.16%
Republican Write-ins 1,137 2.15%
Total votes 52,813 100.00%
General election results[9]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Patrick Leahy (Incumbent) 154,567 72.22% +18.05%
Republican Fred Tuttle 48,051 22.45% -20.90%
Libertarian Hugh Douglas 4,199 1.96%
Independent Barry Nelson 2,893 1.35%
Grassroots Robert Melamede 2,459 1.15%
Liberty Union Jerry Levy 1,238 0.58% -1.21%
Write-ins 629 0.29%
Majority 106,516 49.77% +38.95%
Turnout 214,036
Democratic hold


  1. ^ "Fred Herman Tuttle (1919-2003) - Find A Grave..." 
  2. ^ "Fred Tuttle: Man with a plan?" BBC News, October 27, 1998
  3. ^ "Fred Tuttle for Senate: Why Not?" The Washington Post, September 4, 1998
  4. ^ "Lights, Camera ... Fred!" TIME, September 28,1998
  5. ^ "Man With a Plan" Becomes Reality Archived 2008-10-01 at the Wayback Machine., October 1, 1998
  6. ^ Fred Tuttle: A Man with a Plan at the Wayback Machine (archived October 2, 2008) Vermont Only, archived October 2, 2008 from the original
  7. ^ Fred Tuttle, 84, Farmer and Celebrity, Dies The New York Times, October 7, 2003
  8. ^ William Senning (May 9, 2017). "Elections | Home | Vermont Secretary of State" (PDF). Retrieved July 15, 2017. 
  9. ^ "1998 Election Statistics - Legislative Activities - Office of the Clerk". Retrieved July 15, 2017. 

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Douglas
Republican Party nominee for

U.S. Senator from Vermont
(Class 3)


Succeeded by
Jack McMullen
Retrieved from ""
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