- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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.

Oh, but the parade of potential presidential hopefuls is only just beginning. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky arrives in Ames the first week of August, followed by visits to the good folks of Clear Lake and Urbandale. And on Aug. 9, a gaggle of GOP power players arrives for the Family Leadership Summit. On the roster of confirmed speakers: Mr. Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tim Scott of South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ken Cuccinelli.

“One of the hopeful outcomes of the summit is to bring conservatives together early and consistently in the process leading up to the 2016 elections,” says organizer Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of Family Leader, a Colorado-based family-centric ministry.

‘TRUST AND HONORABILITY’

On several occasions in days of yore, the contentious and manipulative U.S. Congress went on civility retreats to keep themselves in check. Now, perhaps, it will take legislation to do the trick. Enter Rep. E. Scott Rigell, Virginia Republican, and David N. Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat, who have just introduced the Ensuring Trust and Honorability in Congressional Standards Act.

That’s the “ETHICS Act” for short, they say, and it would require all House members to complete mandatory ethics training.

“During my time as a young Marine at Parris Island, I knew there was nothing those drill instructors asked me to do that they did not first do themselves. That is leadership by example, and it is desperately needed here in Washington,” says Mr. Rigell. “As a starting point, members of Congress must be held accountable to the same ethical training standards required of their staff.”

NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE

“New Irish language government minister can’t speak Irish”

— Headline from IrishCentral, noting that during Irish leader Enda Kenny’s recent ministerial reshuffle, Joe McHugh, the official newly named to head up the nation’s Gaeltacht — Irish language activities and heritage — could not actually talk the talk.

O’no.

“Joe McHugh will now attend basic language school,” says reporter James O'Shea.

POLL DU JOUR

66 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress are dealing with illegal immigrants coming to the U.S.; 45 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents and 85 percent of Democrats agree.

23 percent overall approve of the Republicans’ dealings; 48 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of independents and 9 percent of Democrats agree.

58 percent disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the immigrant issue; 85 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents and 37 percent of Democrats agree.

33 percent overall approve of Mr. Obama’s dealings; 12 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent overall support the $3.7 billion Mr. Obama wants to deal with unescorted children crossing the border; 35 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

43 percent oppose the idea; 59 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Washington Post, ABC News poll of 1,016 U.S. adults conducted July 9-13.

Happy talk and doubtful tut-tuts to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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