By Rick Kraft
Reality has set in. I will not be the 46th President of the United States. I was a very long shot anyhow.
I have not written about this in my column before, but I think now it’s time. We’re 38 days from electing the individual who will be the most powerful man in the world for the next four years.
On a visit to New Hampshire in the fall of 2018 my wife and I visited the state capital at Concord. We arrived just before a tour of the building began. We jumped in and learned about the history of the building and the state.
When we visited the Secretary of State’s office, we were told the state takes pride in being the “first in the nation” primary every four years. New Hampshire law dictates their primary must take place at least seven days before any “similar election” in any other state. Recently it’s taken place the week after the Iowa caucus.
The state also takes pride in allowing anyone with qualifications to pay a filing fee and be listed on the ballot.
We enjoyed the tour and learning about the history of the Granite State and its “Live Free or Die” motto. As we walked out the front door of the capitol I looked at my wife of 34 years and told her I was going to run for President. She smiled figuring I was talking nonsense like I often do. I was not.
From October of 2018 to October of 2019 I kept in touch with the New Hampshire Secretary of State so I would know when I needed to file my Declaration of Candidacy. I was doing fine until I realized one day that I didn’t meet the qualifications for President. I was born in Nigeria where my parents were missionaries.
Our constitution, adopted on September 17, 1787, stated the President must be a “natural born” citizen of the United States. After getting depressed because I thought my decision to run for President had ended, I did some research. Well, it turns out that a child born outside our country to a US citizen is considered “natural born.” Examples of other foreign born candidates include John McCain (Panama Canal Zone) and Ted Cruz (Canada).
I was 61 years old and had never been a member of a political party, a requirement to get on the primary ballot, so the first week of November 2019 I registered to join the Republican party. I then submitted my Declaration of Candidacy to the New Hampshire Secretary of State and became the second candidate to register on the Republican ballot.
My odds looked decent at the end of that day as I had only one opponent. But the next day a man named “Donald Trump” decided to run against me and put his name on the ballot also. As a side note, he was the eventual winner.
Word of my entering the race hit Facebook and next thing I knew the Roswell Daily Record called me to do an article on my becoming a candidate for President. An article ran and was picked up by the Associated Press. The next day it ran in newspapers and in online publications from coast to coast. A day later my parents called me from California and told me that my name was in USA Today. I was amazed that my simple decision was considered so newsworthy.
In order to educate New Hampshire residents on my positions and what I stand for I created a website which, amazingly enough, still gets daily hits today, seven months after the primary. The site is seekingonenationundergod.org I then got to work trying to get word out to New Hampshire residents that I was an option for them to consider in their February election.
I reached out through a Facebook page created for me. I was invited to candidate forums in New Hampshire (I didn’t make them) and I answered questions on a New Hampshire website setting out my positions on key issues. A student from Temple University interviewed me and did a nice write up on who I am and how I see the world. A reporter drove 200 miles to interview me. A local radio station interviewed me. All of these are posted on that website.
I got calls from media in New Hampshire and answered a questionnaire from a high school who used the process as a way to teach students about elections. There is not enough space in this column to cover the full extent of the experience, but it was quite an undertaking.
The February 11th primary finally arrived and at one minute after midnight the first votes for President of the United States were cast in Dixville Notch, a small town close to the Canadian border. My wife and I watched it live as the dozen or so residents voted and then after they all voted they counted the ballots on a tally board. I did not get a single vote.
I kept busy on election day at work, but went home with anticipation wondering if I would get maybe five or ten votes. This was my first time running for a public office and I’d never experienced this before.
The votes were tallied and began being posted soon after the polls closed. I watched as I received 1 vote, 3 votes, 7 votes. I was feeling pretty good to get just these votes when the tally jumped to 10. Then it started climbing towards 20. I thought if I got 25 votes that would be good showing in a state I never shook a hand, held a baby, put out a sign, nor paid for any media advertising.
Twenty votes became 30, and 30 became 40. As the evening progressed, I thought I might reach an unexpected level of 50. Well, I passed 50 with half the ballots not yet counted. Sixty, seventy, eighty, it looked like I might make it to triple digits. Low and behold, with ballots still left to be counted I passed 100. Before the evening was through I had made it to 111. I went to bed not sure what the final count would be.
The next day the tally jumped to 117. I later found out I received two write in votes on the Democrat ballot and ended with a total vote of 119. This is all recorded on Wikipedia.
I finished 10th of the 17 candidates on my ballot and 23rd of the 50 candidates on the two ballots, only 10 votes behind Kamala Harris. What an experience! I am very appreciate of each person who helped me in the campaign.
All this happened before COVID or the response to the death of George Floyd. The issues I dealt with seemed easier than the issues our nation is facing today.
My challenge to you today is to ask yourself the question, “When is the last time you did something for the first time?” Maybe it’s time to leave your rut and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Life is too short to not try new adventures.
Although I was unsuccessful in my bid, maybe someday you can run for city council, state representative, governor, or maybe, just maybe, President of the United States!
Just a thought…
Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, a motivational speaker, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.