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12 Presidential Candidates to Keep Your Eye On

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Most political junkies can name all 16 major presidential candidates, but there were 42 candidates on the ballots in the New Hampshire primary! And that's only the candidates running for the republican and democratic party nominations. Who are all these people? Last March, I posted Those Crazy Candidates. Now that the primary season has started, I look back and see that the article centered on celebrities and fictional characters, including some who hadn't even declared. There are plenty of real people running that you've never heard of.

1. Jack Shepard

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Jack Shepard is running his presidential campaign from his home in Rome, Italy, where he fled 25 years ago to avoid prosecution for arson. He is also on parole for a 1979 sexual assault charge. Shepard is a practicing dentist in Italy, although his liscence was revoked in Minnesota in 1983 due to a string of violent incidences. Shepard was on the ballot in the New Hampshire Primary.

2. Gene Amondson

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Gene Amondson is the National Prohibition Party nominee for president, as he was in 2004. Amondson is a minister who garnered almost 2,000 votes in the previous race, and appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in a segment called Party Like It's 1929. His website also contains his artwork and recipes for pies.

More declared candidates, after the jump.

3. Vermin Love Supreme

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Vermin Love Supreme was the first candidate to file for the New Hampshire Primary. He received 41 votes. Supreme's priority issue is mandatory toothbrushing. His favorite color is plaid, and his favorite sport is women's rollerderby.

4. Chief Jack Boulerice

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Jacques Yves 'Chief Jack' Boulerice is running on the Native American Party ticket, which he founded. Chief Jack is anti-immigration, anti-union, and wants to eliminate term limits. As president, he would insist that all immigrants speak English and all government and business dealings be conducted in English only. He has a plan to control wages, not by raising the minimum wage, but by capping all wages at $200,000 a year, with a limit of $25,000 for bonuses. Chief Jack ran for president in 2000 and 2004 also.

5. Princess Christina Gerasimos Billings-Elias

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Christina Gerasimos Billings-Elias has a graphic-based campaign website with little text. From the front page:

Christina born to be President of 'Our America.' ©™. 'The Chosen One, ©™ as proclaimed by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, friends of Theodore and Evelyn Gerasimos, first Greek in Detroit 1890. People's King of the Greeks emanating from Spartan Royalty Warriors.

Although she has extensive information on her family tree and ancestors, I couldn't even find her birthday, much less an explanation of "The Chosen One". She alludes to a story of kidnapping and murder in her family, but does not elaborate. Billing-Elias is running as a democrat. She was not on the New Hampshire ballot.

6. Daniel Melzine Kingery

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Daniel Melzine Kingery belongs to no political party, and isn't afraid to tell it like it is.

At various times in my life, I've been a thief, adulterer, verbally insulted others, drank, smoked, and lied among many others that I'm not so proud of. Because of the lessons learned, I'm not ashamed of them either.

Kingery, as president, would abolish the electoral college, declare all judgeships to be elected positions, and make corrupt leaders subject to charges of treason. He favors a flat tax and a national ID card with DNA information to be issued at birth.

7. James Wellington Wright

James Wellington Wright is a democratic candidate for president, with pages of political opinions on his site. I decided to include him on this list when I found this graphic that explains his immigration policy under the heading "Let me make this perfectly clear!"
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It's a curious combination of old-fashioned jingoism and modern internet slang. Wright was not on the New Hampshire ballot.

8. Joe Martyiuk

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Joe Martyniuk has more policy than biography on his campaign website. But he does have this on the front page:

Joe's an inventor and entrepreneur. He's short and dumpy. He stutters and stammers. All the bad things you hear about him are true. But there are 300 million of you to help him get the job done. He's pro-birth control, conceal carry, stem cell research, unions, separation of church and state, open internet, balanced budget, import brain power, and extended unemployment benefits. God bless and defend our troops.

9. Jonathon Sharkey

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Jonathon 'The Impaler' Sharkey is the founder of the Vampyres, Witches, and Pagans Party, but shows up as Independent on most candidate lists. He is the commanding general and "Death Dealer" with the 1st Vampyre, Witches, Pagans Militia Regiment. Despite those titles, he has a political agenda that covers trade, taxes, health care, taxes, and foreign policy.

10. Caroline Killeen

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Caroline P. Killeen is 81 years old and has no home or permanent address. She lived in Italy for most of 2007, and came back to the US to run for president. Her platform has one issue: global warming. Killeen advocates the use of solar clothes dryers, also known as clotheslines. She had to borrow money for airfare to the Unitesd States, and used three of her Social Security checks to get on the ballot in New Hampshire.

11. Jack Grimes

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Jackson Kirk 'Jack' Grimes is running for the United Fascist Union party, which he heads. The party was incorporated in 1996 to "promote the economic theories and political ideologies of Benito Mussolini and Saddam Hussein." Grimes' priorities are to abolish paper money, freeze prices on consumer goods before reducing those prices, and to form a league of nations with the aim of world government.

12. Bennie Lee Ferguson

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Bennie Lee "Ben" Ferguson is running for president and simutaneously for the Kansas State House of Representatives. She explains on her website that the presidential run is mainly to provide publicity for her statehouse campaign. Bennie Lee is an openly transgender candidate and college student who makes a living entertaining with the Bennie Ferguson Band.

Information for this article came from Project Vote Smart and from the Minor Candidate Report. I have barely scratched the surface of these resources.

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History
Abraham Lincoln Letter About Slavery Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction
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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, in which future president Abraham Lincoln spent seven debates discussing the issue of slavery with incumbent U.S. senator Stephen Douglas, paved the way for Lincoln’s eventual ascent to the presidency. Now part of that history can be yours, as the AP reports.

A signed letter from Lincoln to his friend Henry Asbury dated July 31, 1858 explores the “Freeport Question” he would later pose to Douglas during the debates, forcing the senator to publicly choose between two contrasting views related to slavery’s expansion in U.S. territories: whether it should be up to the people or the courts to decide where slavery was legal. (Douglas supported the popular choice argument, but that position was directly counter to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.)

The first page of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Asbury
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

In the letter, Lincoln was responding to advice Asbury had sent him on preparing for his next debate with Douglas. Asbury essentially framed the Freeport Question for the politician. In his reply, Lincoln wrote that it was a great question, but would be difficult to get Douglas to answer:

"You shall have hard work to get him directly to the point whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power; he will instantly take ground that slavery can not actually exist in the territories, unless the people desire it, and so give it protective territorial legislation."

Asbury's influence didn't end with the debates. A founder of Illinois's Republican Party, he was the first to suggest that Lincoln should run for president in 1860, and secured him the support of the local party.

The letter, valued at $500,000 to $700,000, is up for sale as part of a books and manuscripts auction that Christie’s will hold on December 5.

[h/t Associated Press]

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Big Questions
Can You Expel a Sitting Senator?
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In light of recent allegations, Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado this week said that if Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore “refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.” Meanwhile, Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, has been involved in a high profile corruption trial, with calls that he should resign or be expelled if convicted. Has anything this drastic ever happened before?

Yes, but not for a very long time. Once you’ve been voted into the Senate, it’s difficult to get you out.

REFUSING TO SEAT

Refusing to even seat a senator is very rare, but one example from over 100 years ago also involved Alabama.

In 1913, Alabama Senator Joseph F. Johnston died just a few months after the ratification of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. The Amendment allowed for direct election of senators, as well as clarifying the role of the state in calling special elections. Alabama’s governor put up Representative Henry Clayton, but he soon resigned the appointment. This was followed by Frank Glass, a local newspaper editor. As Glass was about to be seated, senators worried that his appointment was illegitimate (similar fears had surrounded Clayton). As one senator said at the time, “I believe that the [17th] Amendment means exactly what it says. It is perfectly plain and unambiguous. It simply means from this time forward every senator of the United States must be elected by the people, unless the legislature of a state by express terms empowers the executive to make temporary appointments to fill vacancies. The legislature of the state of Alabama has not given such power to the executive.”

By a vote of 32-31, the rest of the Senate agreed and refused to seat Glass, leading to a special election in 1914 that brought in a new senator.

Since then there have been multiple attempts to not seat a senator—most famously Roland Burris in 2009, who was appointed by Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich under the cloud of corruption charges (though he was ultimately let in). But in reality a refusal to seat a senator is unlikely to succeed.

In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Powell v. McCormack that as long as a duly elected representative met the age, citizenship, and residence requirements of the Constitution, they could not be excluded from the House. They could be expelled after taking their seat, but not excluded. Since it’s generally felt that this ruling extends to the Senate, it would likely not be possible to exclude an elected senator from their seat. But once that seat is taken, expulsion becomes a possibility.

EXPULSION

The United States Constitution states that, “Each House may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.” However, this is exceedingly rare.

The first time it happened was in the 1797 case of William Blount, one of the first two senators from Tennessee. According to the Senate, Blount had worked on a plan to take control of Spanish Florida and Louisiana and transfer them to the British with the help of Native Americans and frontiersmen. This plot was discovered and Blount was expelled, but not until he was impeached by the House of Representatives (the House has the sole power of impeachment, and it falls to the Senate to try the impeachment). The Senate ultimately decided not to try the impeachment, although whether that’s because senators believed that they themselves are unimpeachable or because Blount was unimpeachable because he had already been expelled and thus ceased being a senator is up for debate.

The next attempt at expulsion was in 1808, when Ohio’s John Smith was caught up in the Aaron Burr controversies. When it came to vote, the tally was 19 yeas for expulsion and 10 nays. Since the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority, Smith was saved from expulsion by one vote, although he would resign soon after.

The largest crop of expulsions was in 1861 and 1862, in regards to senators from southern states. As some senators were still officially members of the Senate, despite representing seceding states, it was felt that their status should be clarified by expulsion. As a result, 10 senators were expelled on July 11, 1861 (the expulsion order of one of the senators, William K. Sebastian of Arkansas, was later posthumously revoked after it was determined the charges “were as regards Sebastian merely a matter of suspicion and inference and wholly unfounded as to fact” and he didn’t commit conspiracy against the government). Later, a few more senators were expelled on the charge of supporting the rebellion. Including Sebastian, a grand total of 14 senators would be expelled during the Civil War. Since then, no senator has been expelled.

That’s not to say there haven’t been attempts. Cases since the Civil War have ended in either an exoneration or the senator leaving office before the vote. The most recent near-expulsion was Nevada Senator John Ensign in 2011 under accusations that he broke federal laws while attempting to cover up an affair. At the time, Senator Barbara Boxer of California said the case was “substantial enough to warrant the consideration of expulsion.” Ultimately, Ensign resigned.

It has been 155 years since the last senator was expelled. Whether—or when—that fact will change only time will tell.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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