UPDATE: Independent candidate Nathan Altman jumping into U.S. Senate race

A third-party candidate with a business background has jumped into Indiana’s U.S. Senate race.

Carmel native and entrepreneur Nathan Altman filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring his candidacy as an independent for U.S. Senate earlier this month.

Altman, 30, is the son of Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altman, a Republican. But Nathan Altman told IBJ he’s always viewed himself as an independent.

“I don’t fit the mold,” Altman said about the traditional two political parties.

Altman said he never expected to get involved with politics, despite his mom’s involvement, and considered himself an entrepreneur from a young age. As a kid, he had his own lawn mowing business that grew into a big enough company that he was able to pay for his education. 

He graduated from Purdue University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in building and construction management.

He has never run for political office before.

In 2010, he helped launch DeveloperTown, which develops web-based software and mobile applications for businesses, and the following year, he helped create the co-working space The Speakeasy in the same building.

He also co-founded a startup called uFlavor with another Purdue graduate in 2009, and moved to California to help that venture grow in late 2011. The company wasn’t successful, but Altman lived mostly between California and Indiana until about six weeks ago.

During his time away, he worked as the chief operating officer for Launch Media in San Francisco and spent time serving as a crew member on yachts.

“I’ve been out, and I think that does a lot of good,” Altman said.

Altman said he never let his residency lapse in Indiana, and he currently resides in Carmel.

Altman also is a partner with an Indianapolis-based real estate development firm called Altman Investments.

He most recently has been involved in designing, engineering and building infrastructure for the annual Burning Man arts and culture gathering in the Black Rock Desert area of Nevada. His work with that organization led to the nickname “Mary Poppins.” 

Altman told IBJ he decided to run for U.S. Senate at about the beginning of the year and said he’s running because of the growing political divide between the two parties, which has caused a lack of independent thinkers, and to provider a younger perspective in Congress.

“We can be a leader in this movement,” Altman said. “We can be a leader in this new way of thinking.”

The Constitutional age requirement to serve in the Senate is 30, and Altman is one of the youngest candidate nationwide.

He said the big issue he wants to tackle is ballot access—making it easier for people to get on a ballot and making it easier for people vote and have a say in elections.

As for the other policies being debated in the Senate race right now,—including immigration, gun control and federal spending—Altman isn’t taking positions just yet.

“We have a fundamental structural problem that I want to solve first,” Altman said.

Three Republicans are fighting to be on the ballot in the fall—U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer and former state lawmaker Mike Braun.

Christine Altman endorsed Messer’s campaign in December.

“She warned me of what politics is because she’s been in it for so long,” Nathan Altman said. “And she has been very up front about where she has made commitments.”

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is the incumbent. He is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Altman is officially launching his campaign with a public event at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Speakeasy in Broad Ripple.

He needs to collect more than 26,000 signatures by July 2 to be on the ballot in November. If successful, Altman said he would be the first independent candidate to ever be on a ballot for U.S. Senate in Indiana.

“That’s why it excited me,” Altman said. “It’s a challenge.”

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