- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Republican leaders thought it was a joke when Richard M. Nixon walked in, plopped down $1,400 and said he wanted to run for state agriculture commissioner.
"Funny name," a worker said with a smirk, thinking the man was using the name of the late president in an expensive prank.
It wasn't a joke.
Richard Milton Nixon says he really is in the race and he was steaming yesterday over his treatment by party officials who thought he was a bogus candidate using the name of President Richard Milhous Nixon.
"I've been getting this all my life," said Mr. Nixon, 41.
Mr. Nixon is well known in his hometown of Pell City, about 30 minutes east of Birmingham. His father, A.E. Nixon, served on the City Council and was mayor, and Richard Nixon once ran for council but lost.
Mr. Nixon operates a restaurant and used to be a golf pro. Phil Seay, chairman of the St. Clair County Republican Party, said most locals refer to Mr. Nixon by his nickname: Doughnut.
But Mr. Nixon felt he was getting the brushoff when he telephoned Alabama Republican headquarters on April 1 gave his name and asked a worker to send him qualifying papers.
"I called them on April Fool's Day I didn't even think about it," he said.
The state party called Mr. Seay, who verified Mr. Nixon's identity. But the message did not get through, and party officials assumed a prankster was trying to get on the ballot as candidate qualifying ended Friday.
Mr. Nixon was out of imprinted checks, so he used a counter check without a name to pay the qualifying fee.
"They were all laughing," Mr. Nixon said.
Party Chairman Marty Connors said the response was only natural.
"You have a guy named Richard Nixon and he qualifies in the last hour with a counter check. What are we supposed to do? We have to verify it," Mr. Connors said.
Mr. Nixon faces J. Lee Alley, the longtime state veterinarian, in the June 4 primary.
He hopes his name helps build recognition with voters. "As much ribbing as I've taken, I guess I ought to use it for something," he said.

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