Inside the Beltway: The 2016 fringe candidates come a-runnin’

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The outsiders, the also-rans, the determined individualists — the Federal Election Commission has been besieged by presidential candidate filings from lesser-known Americans in “a massive uptick” compared to the 2012 presidential race. There are more than 100 White House hopefuls who don’t quite fit the typical political bill.

“Could the swell in candidate filings be a sign of rising dissatisfaction with the federal government? Or is it merely a reflection of the fact that the 2016 cycle is an open seat race?” asks Eric Ostermeier, a political professor at the University of Minnesota and director of Smart Politics, a research group on the campus.

After poring over current “Statement of Candidacy” filings through mid-July, Mr. Ostermeier found that 112 “fringe” hopefuls have submitted their papers, compared to 56 similar applications at a corresponding time four years ago. Of the 112 candidates to file thus far, 38 are Republicans, 18 are Democrats. Two claim to be both Republican and Democrats, while 25 are independents. Sixteen had no affiliation.

“Applicants have filed from the Green, Libertarian, Reform, Socialist Democrat and tea parties, as well as one each from the All Mother Earth, America’s Third Party, Anti-Hypocrisy, Bull Moose, Inspiration, Priorities, Revolutionary and Work parties,” Mr. Ostermeier notes.

And the hopefuls are mostly men; 87 are male, 25 are female. They are also fairly imaginative. Among Democrats, James “Titus the Great” Law of Torrance, California, and President Emperor Caesar of Cape Coral, Florida, have filed their papers. Republican Tim “Texas Slim” Day of Galveston Island, Texas, is also in the running, along with unaffiliated candidate Andre Ventura of Detroit, who says his vice presidential running mate name is “God.

Two persistent early birds have already filed for the 2020 cycle, he adds. That would be Republican Timothy Kalemkarian and Libertarian Kip Lee — who have both filed for every election cycle since 1996.

CHRIS CHRISTIE READY TO STORM IOWA

With the Bridgegate “scandal” pretty much in his rearview mirror, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been slowly re-establishing his public presence through select appearances and events. He’s emphasizing no-nonsense productivity these days and seems reconciled to all the past hubbub.

“You get criticized no matter what. So just do your job,” Mr. Christie noted earlier this week.

But brace for some change: The Garden State governor arrives in Iowa on Thursday for a trio of bodacious fundraisers in the picturesque towns of Cedar Rapids, Waukee and Davenport. Events benefitting the Republican Governors Association and Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen are in private homes and command ticket prices that begin at $25,000 a person.

The third is for Gov. Terry Branstad himself — the big finale. It is public and will unfold with much good cheer and old-timey style in the spacious Starlight Ballroom at Iowa State Fair, billed as “An Evening at the Fair with Chris Christie.”

The weight loss-conscious Mr. Christie — who has dropped 100 pounds in the last year — may have to carefully mull the menu, which includes “Taste of Iowa tapas and dessert.” Iowa tapas? That means whiskey-marinated pork loin, sweet corn studded with bacon bits and, of course, cheese curds.

Mr. Christie’s speech, incidentally, will be carried live on C-SPAN beginning at 7 p.m.

‘TIS THE SEASON

Once the aforementioned New Jersey governor leaves Iowa, a Texas governor will be on his very heels. That would be Gov. Rick Perry, who plans an excursion to the heartland state six days later, his fourth visit to Iowa in less than two years. Mr. Perry will be busy hosting events for the North Iowa Conservative dinner at a high school in Algona, followed by lunch with veterans, law enforcement members and ambulance personnel in Clear Lakeand and a barbecue fundraiser for the Cerro Gordo GOP.

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