Lesser-Known Candidates for President

Vermin Supreme and Paperboy Love Prince have as good a chance as Vivek Ramaswamy.

NPR (“A postcard from the Lesser-Known Candidate Forum, a New Hampshire primary tradition“):

Richard Rist is a business owner from Maryland, frustrated with how divided the nation has become. His solution: run for president. Because… why not?

On Thursday, Rist was part of what’s called the Lesser-Known Candidate Forum, held by Saint Anselm College in Manchester every four years, a tradition that dates back to 1972 in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

It only costs $1,000 to get your name on the presidential primary ballot in New Hampshire, a far lower barrier to entry than in other states. So, there’s no shortage of lesser-known candidates.

Rist is one of 45 people who will be on that ballot next month. Does he see a clear path to victory? “No. No I’d be lying if I said that. Do I hold out the possibility that I could grab some traction? Yeah, I do,” he told NPR.

Dressed conservatively in a navy sport coat and a floral tie, Rist made his way to the stage, where he found himself sandwiched between a man wearing a big black rubber boot on his head, and a candidate named Paperboy Love Prince whose outfit evoked a wish-granting genie.

Twenty of the lesser-known presidential candidates came out to share their ideas, including Donald Picard of Cambridge, Mass.

“When I began this rather quixotic journey a few months ago, I had as a stretch goal that I would be participating in a presidential debate, and here I am. Wow!” he said.

Republican Peter Jedick, a retired firefighter from Cleveland, said he wanted to try to get attention for his ideas, like moving the government out of Washington, D.C., and dealing with the debt.

But he also has the kind of optimism even some better known candidates are fueled by. “Well, I’m not going beat Trump. But I think I can move up there with, like, Nikki Haley and those guys,” he said.

And then there was perennial candidate Vermin Supreme, known for the boot he wears on his head. “Vermin Supreme will take away your guns … and give you better ones. And these better guns will shoot marshmallows, but they will still be lethal,” he said to laughter in the room.

His stated platform had something to do with space alien ponies, though it was a bit hard to decipher.

These quadrennial reports are, rightly, played for laughs given the absurdity of some of the candidates. None of these people are remotely qualified to run for President and, of course, won’t be given serious consideration.

At the same time, the major party primary debates routinely feature candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy, Herman Cain, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, and Andrew Yang. Some of whom gain traction for at least a while before the parties settle on more traditional candidates. (Of course, there’s the example of Donald Trump, who was arguably no more qualified than some of the other business candidates but started with far greater celebrity and won the whole damn thing.)

Moreover, while it seems obvious to me that we need to winnow the ballot to a reasonable number of candidates, that fact of the matter is that our system essentially gives us a choice between two and only two viable candidates—the Democratic and Republican Party nominees—every four years. To reiterate Steven’s point in his post on Kevin McCarthy’s departure, a more representative system would give us more choices than that. Alas, doing so would require a complete rethinking of our entire governing structure.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jax says:

    Hahahaha….all hail Vermin Supreme! Space ponies on every corner! 😛 😛

  2. CSK says:

    Paperboy Love Prince is non-binary and wishes to be addressed as God/Goddess. He sounds very likable.

  3. Moosebreath says:

    Nobody running from the Monster Raving Loony Party?

  4. CSK says:


    They seem to be U.K.-based. Great name, though.

  5. Kathy says:

    Can I nominate a Joyner-Taylor ticket on the Proportional Representation Party?

  6. Kingdaddy says:

    Vivek Ramaswamy would not look out of place at that table. Nor would Ron DeSantis. In fact, the guy with the boot on his head might be able to give him some pointers on how to look more relaxed and natural.

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    …a more representative system would give us more choices than that.

    But we do have more choices than the two Major Parties and the “Big Two” Third Parties (Green and Libertarian).
    See this register provided by Politics1 of 25 United States political parties that have actually fielded candidates. Note that “No Labels” is listed as a political party however it is relegated to the bottom of the heap along with the Canary Party and others that have yet to field a nominee.

  8. Chris says:

    Of course none of the non-Trump GOP candidates are going to get the nomination. Trump will walk it. They know it, we know it.

    What’s worrying though is that characters like Ramaswamy are really running for Veep, hence the refusal to criticise the Holy One, and if 78-year old Trump is elected president next year, whoever is his Veep has an above zero chance of becoming POTUS during his term.

  9. Thomm says:

    It is truly too bad that Florida cancelled their primary so their residents couldn’t lodge their approval for candidates with such a chance to win both the primary and general.

  10. DK says:


    Vivek Ramaswamy would not look out of place at that table. Nor would Ron DeSantis. In fact, the guy with the boot on his head might be able to give him some pointers on how to look more relaxed and natural.

    Underrated comment. Lololol

  11. Gustopher says:

    Does Vermin Supreme believe in the charmingly racist Great Replacement Theory, that January 6th was an inside job, that the government has been lying to us about 9/11, and that the 2020 election was stolen? He might be more sensible than Vivek Ramiswamy.

  12. @Mister Bluster: While I very much take the point, the reality is that there are two choices that have a real chance of winning and then there is a list of options that are various flavors of guaranteed loser.

    So, how many choices do we really have?

  13. @Thomm: As I understand it, Biden may have been the only candidate who qualified for the ballot.

    But even if the ballot was Biden v. Dean Phillips v. Marianne Williamson, what do you assume the result would be?

  14. Mister Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:..So, how many choices do we really have?

    For me one. I have always voted for the Democratic candidate for President USA to prevent the Supreme Court from striking down Roe. Beginning with George McGovern in 1972. I was 20 years old in 1968 and too young to vote. I honestly don’t know who I would have voted for then. I vaguely remember Nixon had some sort of Guaranteed Minimum Income plan that I thought was progressive at the time.

  15. CSK says:


    Vermin’s platform has five major planks:
    1.Mandatory tooth-brushing
    2. Time travel research
    3. A free pony for each American
    4. Using zombies for renewable energy
    5. Zombie apocalypse awareness.

    I see nothing about the Great Replacement .

  16. Mister Bluster says:

    Lest we forget there was at one time the Yippies. The Youth International Party whose 1968 nominee for the presidency was Pigasus.

    This is an excerpt of testimony at the trial of the Chicago Seven
    given by singer/songwriter Phil Ochs (witness) describing the arrest of Pigasus and others.
    Foran is the prosecutor with no sense of humor.
    I believe the Court is Judge Julius Hoffman.

    MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what, if anything, happened to the pig?
    THE WITNESS: The pig was arrested with seven people.
    MR. KUNSTLER: When did that take place?
    THE WITNESS: This took place on the morning of August 23, at the Civic Center underneath the Picasso sculpture.
    MR. KUNSTLER: Who were those seven people?
    THE WITNESS: Jerry Rubin. Stew Albert, Wolfe Lowenthal, myself is four; I am not sure of the names of the other three.
    MR. KUNSTLER: What were you doing when you were arrested?
    THE WITNESS: We were arrested announcing the pig’s candidacy for President.
    MR. KUNSTLER: Did Jerry Rubin speak?
    THE WITNESS: Yes, Jerry Rubin was reading a prepared speech for the pig—the opening sentence was something like, “I, Pigasus, hereby announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.” He was interrupted in his talk by the police who arrested us. …
    MR. KUNSTLER: Do you remember what you were charged with?
    THE WITNESS: I believe the original charge mentioned was something about an old Chicago law about bringing livestock into the city, or disturbing the peace, or disorderly conduct, and when it came time for the trial, I believe the charge was disorderly conduct.
    MR. KUNSTLER: Were you informed by an officer that the pig had squealed on you?
    MR. FORAN: Objection. I ask it be stricken.
    THE COURT: I sustain the objection. When an objection is made do not answer until the Court has ruled. . .

  17. de stijl says:

    Hey, Vermin Supreme and (scrolls up) Paperboy Love Prince have not sent me about a billion spam texts. All the top tier R candidates have.

    Vivek Ramaswany has. Nikki Haley has. Ron DeSantis has. Some guy named Doug Burgrum (sp?) or close spelling – never heard of him, has. I can show you receipts. I have 36 tweets in my spam folder right now that have accumulated in the last week since I last cleaned it out.

    If you live in Iowa you now get about 5 unsolicited spam tweets per day for random R presidential candidates. Guaranteed. Daily.

    Are those on-shore text spam shops or off-shore spam text shops? Where from? How are they funded?

    Since I have moved to Iowa I have never once voted for an R candidate for anything. My current voter registration has a semi-defunct landlines attached to it. I pay for it monthly still, but the handset is unplugged and has been for years. I’m registered as a D. Had to switch over from I to attend the D caucuses. Which are a total experience and a hoot, btw.

    I thought I was out of the game when they moved the Iowa caucuses out of first place in the calendar. No! That was only the Democrats, and not the Republicans. The first in the nation Iowa caucuses are still happening, but only for Republicans. It’s very bizarre!

    The last time I voted for a R that was a mistake. In 2002. When I lived in Minnesota. I’d studied the alt-weekly voter guide. Decided. Had me shit locked down. The judicial races were non-partisan so I had to remember names. I fucked up and ended up voting for the one guy I hated the most, a reactionary asshole. Thankfully, he lost by a 92 to 8 margin in my precinct. I fucked up bit my homies had my back.

    I have never voted for an R candidate once in my entire Iowa residency and I still get ~5 spam tweets from R candidates daily. They always have a tell. They are addressed to a specific name and are meant to be interpreted as a fat finger mistyped misdirected text. One calls me Irving. Another calls me Almo. “Almo, have you heard? Ron DeSantis will be in Waukee this weekend to address the Anti-Woke Pearl Clutching Club on Saturday. Here’s the contact info.” You can get away with that if you get one or two texts like that a year. It’s a cheeky dodge as a one off, but I get several dozen per week so even a complete sees through the tissue thin con job it is. If you repeat the gag that repeatedly, it loses all intended impact. I bulk delete them once or twice a week. Who the fuck is named Almo, btw?

    TV is basically unwatchable if you want to dodge R ads. It is nigh insufferable. Especially now that I am used to ads you can skip after 5 seconds. There is no skip button on my TV remote. Local Iowa TV stations make out like bandits every four years just on political ads. It is grotesque, omnipresent, infuriating, and fascinating. About half of all broadcast / cable ads in Des Moines are for R presidential candidates I will never vote for.

    Des Moines, proper, isn’t the intended audience. That’s gonna vote D 80-20 in the general election. It’s intended to the the outer-ring suburbs and exurbs and smaller towns surrounding us. DM itself is a lost cause as are the inner ring suburbs, but their signal reaches far out into into extra suburbia and into small towns. It is nigh unwatchable. My mute button has its symbol/icon worn off from use; I know it by muscle memory.

    My new phone catches political text spam out of hinterland Russia or Azerbaijan as spam and sorts it into one folder. I block, report, and delete each one. Unread!

    Living in the “first in the Nation” state is pretty fucking obnoxious. We get every ad dollar in the world pointed at us every four years for months on end and this go round I can’t even vote on it since it’s a R only thing. NO GURLS ALOW’D like it’s a tree house clubhouse from Our Gang / Little Rascals movie shorts from the ’30’s.