The 1992 presidential field is more open than you'd think.According to the Presidential Address List put out by the Federal Election Commission, 112 people have already filed statements of candidacy. Here's a quick rundown of the not-so-front-runners.
Mrs. Frank Stewart from Piedmont, Alabama, is outraged by the early reluctance of others to enter the fray. A retired schoolteacher who believes that we should elect a woman president -- and soon -- she declares: "Any citizen in the United States should be interested in the position. We enjoy the blessings of this great country and we should be willing to serve."
Mrs. Stewart's real goal, she says, is to become the first woman to be elected U.S. senator from Alabama. She is running for president to get attention from the media. Her inspiration is Maryland's Belva Lockwood, who won all the electoral votes from Indiana in the 1888 election, nearly upending front-runner Grover Cleveland.
George Berish of Honolulu, chairman of the American Political Party, promises "a return to more fundamental ethical concepts which hold that there is a universal meaning to what things and which conduct are 'good.' " Mr. Berish is seeking a party logo to go along with his platform. For the moment, he has imaginatively settled on the American Owl with the slogan, "Whooo would you vote for?"
Not surprising, God plays a large part in many of the campaigns. The most fervently Christian of all candidates is Jack Fellure of Hurricane, West Virginia, who's put in $40,000 of his own money so far and who, upon declaring candidacy, sent to the Federal Election Commission a leather-bound copy of his platform, the Authorized 1611 King James Bible. "God wrote it as the supreme document and final authority in the affairs of all men, nations and civilizations, for time and eternity," he says. "It shall never be necessary to change it."
Mr. Fellure will keep the Bible always open on his desk in the Oval Office. He is so sure of his eventual victory that he stamps all his campaign materials with the words: "Historical Documents. Do Not Destroy. Retain For Future Use."
Calvin Harris of Chandler, Arizona, told me he is seeking the presidency because a special IQ test named him the smartest man in the world. However, he said, he could not send me any campaign documents because FBI agents had recently broken his hands, preventing him from revealing the "truth about
David Hornberger of Covina, California, who also ran in 1980, falls into the same genre. He says he will have trouble getting elected this time because people keep trying to assassinate him. "After the end of the year, I have to start hiding," Mr. Hornberger told me. "I've learned to time my personal life and my first campaign mailing. The Republicans and Democrats are not going to relinquish power without shooting someone."
Also crusading is Nick Kratsas, a part-time security guard at Youngstown State University in Ohio, who says his candidacy represents the "notch babies," the 12 million Americans born between 1917 and 1921 who complain that they are being deprived of the full Social Security payments that are rightly theirs because of a glitch in the law.
Mr. Kratsas is very concerned about smokers' rights and clandestine mind manipulation by the media. He sent me his full platform as well as a photograph of him enjoying a 1987 vacation at a hotel in Argentina.
There are, of course, other one-issue candidates. Elijah Anderson Omega from Palmdale, California, includes in his agenda a national law that would make it illegal for any woman under the age of 18 to have sex.
Charles Gordon Vick of Memphis, Tennessee, says he is opposed to any person being president who is influenced by the "Bilderbergers, Trilateralist Commission, or any other Communist support group, such as the NAACP, ACLU or ADL of B'nai Brith." Mr. Vick says the media have not covered his campaign because "they are biased against Christian Jews." He has asked Rep. Stephen Solarz of New York to be his running mate because, he says, "he's an Orthodox Jew and I'm a Christian Jew and that should be a good combination, because 90 percent of the country's Jewish anyhow."
Kip Lee from Redding, California, told me that for the past 40 years the U.S. government has been holding captive four powerful outer-space beings in Dayton, Ohio. His first move as president would be to "incarcerate the military perpetrators and release the captives because the perpetrators are, in reality, members of the world's secret governments."
At the heart of Mr. Lee's agenda lies the Ashtar Space Command, "a loving group of space people who want the citizens of the Planet Earth to grow spiritually by receiving God-realization." Mr. Lee knows about Ashtar because they last visited Earth when the continent of Atlantis was thriving, and at that time, he was president of Atlantis in another life. He says Ashtar will save the Earth from nuclear destruction and that they will then teach us to love one another.
He has communicated these ideas in several letters to President Bush. "It is now time for humanity to cease from its childish war games," Mr. Lee wrote to Mr. Bush, "and become MAN, with an awakened sense of his responsibility and accountability for life on Earth. This planet will yet become a member of its own peaceful solar system and galaxy, and will become a part of the Universal Alliance of Peace."
Jerry Brown, the race is on.
Neal Pollack is a former reporter-researcher for The New Republic, in which this article first appeared.