All the True Believers

When Slate’s Dave Weigel interviewed Buddy Roemer the other day, the former Louisiana governor espoused his theory on why he’s not getting any press attention: “It depends on the quality of the reporter, I find. Some of them are just concerned about the money you raise and where you stand in the polls.” If reporters realized the righteousness of his message, he said, he’d be hitting Michele Bachmann levels of attention.

So far they haven’t. The next Republican presidential debate, hosted by Politico and NBC, is on the 7th, and he’s not invited. Neither are the more successful Thad McCotter or Gary Johnson. The reasons for why this is are murky. Weigel reported earlier that debate criteria stipulates a candidate must be polling at at least four percent, but even that can be a negotiable obstacle. Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, polling at 3 and 2 percent respectively, still get to play.

Still, the belief that reporters haven’t caught on to his moral supremacy doesn’t bode well for Roemer if he wants people to think he has a grasp on reality. Neither does his self-imposed $100 contribution cap. A perceived grasp of reality is a pretty important quality in a presidential candidate, but since it’s not been stated as criteria for media coverage, we put together a list of other consistently neglected, and uninvited, Republican candidates:

Fred Karger
Fred Karger started talking about a run in April 2010. He’s worked on political campaigns his entire adult life, and was senior consultant to Ronald Reagan, Bush the First, and Gerald Ford during their presidential campaigns. His credentials imply he ought to be a major player, but he hasn’t risen above the status of curiosity to the few people who even know who he is. That could be because Karger is gay, and has spent the past 7 years as an outspoken gay rights advocate. It could also be because, though he insists it’s not, his campaign is practically a piece of performance art about the way unconventional candidates don’t get covered by the media.

Jimmy McMillan
McMillan was last seenrunning for Governor of New York with the Rent is 2 Damn High Party. He’s the one who said he’d personally preside over your wedding whether you wanted to marry a man, a woman, or a shoe. He’s probably the most liberal person in the race, but he switched parties early this year to avoid a primary against Obama.

Andy Martin
Martin ran in the Republican Congressional primary in Connecticut in 1986, with the campaign committee name “The Anthony R. Martin-Trigona Congressional Campaign to Exterminate Jew Power in America.” Ten years later he was running for a State Senate seat in Florida and this piece of information emerged, causing the Florida Republican party to immediately renounce him. He then assaulted a TV reporter and threatened the judge at the ensuing trial. He was sentenced to 7 months in jail, served one, was released on a technicality, and fled the state. As of 2008 there is still a warrant for his arrest.

The “King of the Birthers,” after Barack Obama’s DNC keynote speech in 2004 Martin began a rumor that Obama was a secret Muslim. In 2008 he abandoned that view, and told CNN that instead Obama’s real father was a Hawaiian journalist named Frank Marshall Davis. That same year he filed a lawsuit against the state of Hawaii demanding it reveal Obama’s real birth certificate. Yea, he’s that guy.

Roy Moore
Though technically not in the race yet, Moore announced an exploratory committee in April. Moore is a former chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court. In 2003 he was dismissed by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, when he refused to remove an enormous monument of the Ten Commandments from the front lawn of the Supreme Court Building. He’d been ordered to take down the monument by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Rather than comply, he took dismissal. In 2005 wrote in his autobiographythat “Those who sat behind benches wearing black robes and wielding gavels did not want to be reminded that there is a God, or for that matter, a Constitution that they were sworn to uphold. Judicial restraint gave way to judicial tyranny, and a new law reigned—the rule of man.”

Jonathon Sharkey
The founding member of the Vampires, Witches, and Pagans Party, (I’m not you; I’m a vampire) Sharkey ended his bid 3 days after Tim Pawlenty did, which means it’s now up to the write-in campaign. He’s had legal troubles in the past involving kidnapping underage girls, and claims to regularly drink the blood of the girls he’s involved with. In January he told Tucker Carlson that “Certain criminals, instead of being put in jail, they should be brutally tortured and impaled,” and has announced his wish to ban abortion and the teaching of evolution. He’s also a Luciferian, who’s criticized Mitt Romney for not being more open about his religion (Romney has never shied away from his Mormonism).

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It’s not all fun and games, though. We didn’t include McCotter or Johnson on this list, because, frankly, they’re not crazy enough. But they’re not getting any press either, and neither of them have been invited to a debate since Gary Johnson showed up at the semi-formal first one. That debate, which took place in early May, didn’t include Romney or Bachmann, and still saw Pawlenty losing to the completely unknown Herman Cain. If you know you won’t win and you aren’t a nut and you still file to run for president, it’s usually because there’s an issue to which you want to draw attention. That’s the prevailing logic behind the bids of McCotter (fiscal austerity without Tea Party undertones) and Johnson (cost-benefit analysis-style governorship) anyway. Even crazy old Buddy Roemer is using his $100 cap to talk about the political influence of special interests. Excluding them from the process means that their issues won’t even be heard. Call it the Fred Karger dilemma.

Justin Spees

Justin Spees is an intern at the Washington Monthly.