Getting on the New Hampshire primary ballot is pretty easy. All you need is $1,000, a party affiliation, and to file some paperwork with the secretary of state’s office.
Getting your message out to voters? Well, that’s not so easy. There will be 58 names on the ballot, yet voters really only hear about the 15 mainstream GOP and Democratic candidates vying for the nomination.
But the rest of the contenders, the more obscure White House hopefuls, will get their time to shine soon enough. Enter the “Lesser-Known Candidates Forum,” hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library at Saint Anselm College.
Nearly 30 candidates plan to gather Tuesday to tell voters why they should be president. They’re traveling from California, Florida, Indiana, Ohio — and a few places closer to home — for the forum.
“It’s part of the New Hampshire primary tradition,” Neil Levesque, the institute’s executive director, explained about the forum, which has taken place since 1972.
And in case the name isn’t explicit enough: Don’t expect to see the party’s preeminent candidates on stage. Invitations aren’t doled out based on national poll numbers. If a candidate has participated in a national media debate, then he or she “would probably not make the cut,” Levesque said.
Michael Steinberg, an attorney and Democratic candidate from Tampa, plans to be there. Steinberg, who focuses on Social Security, disability, and veterans’ compensation cases, says a broken system motivated him to run. He hopes other candidates and the party will incorporate his ideas into their platform.
“I don’t have any delusions of grandeur thinking I’m going to win the election, but sometimes you have to stick your neck out if you want to make changes,” he said.
One candidate who did not get an invitation — and it’s not because he’s too mainstream — was Vermin Supreme, who wears a rubber boot on his head and uses humor to diffuse politically charged moments.
During the 2011 forum, Supreme glitter-bombed Randall Terry, an antiabortion activist, saying: “Jesus told me to make Randall Terry gay.”
Terry took the moment in stride, saying afterward that it was “funny.”
Levesque, not so much.
“Vermin Supreme damaged our property, and therefore he is no longer welcome,” he said this week.