Voters who are dissatisfied with the major party nominees for president have other choices on the Ohio ballot. There are a few third party candidates, as well as a list of 18 candidates who have been certified as write-ins. And eight are from Ohio.
Eight of those 18 write in candidates are from Ohio – including Ben Hartnell of Westerville. The high school history teacher with the bald head, the long red beard and the crazy red, white and blue outfits is running under the slogan “lower taxes, more beard”. Hartnell was the first to qualify for the Ohio ballot, and says he remains the best looking in this field of 18 – but he says there’s a somber undertone to his effort, which has him listed as a write in candidate in 26 states.
“This thing has gained such a great kind of grassroots movement to where we’re like, we are a serious contender for the battleground state of Ohio. Maybe we rattle the cage enough we’ll get Clinton and Trump’s attention that Americans are kind of tired of what’s been going on. You have a millionaire versus a billionaire and then you have me. You’ve got someone that maybe people can kind of associate with.”
Another of the seven Ohioans on the write in list is Joe Schriner of Bluffton. He calls himself “Average Joe” and is a house painter by trade. He says he’s a concerned parent with a journalism background, and says he’s logged 26 years and 250,000 miles in putting together this run. And Schriner bristles at the suggestion that he and the other write in candidates aren’t serious about their campaigns.
“If there’s anything that’s a joke, it’s what is evolving on the mainstream stage at this point. We think that at some point the country is going to hit a bottom, just like an alcoholic hits a bottom. And we’ll become a lot more teachable and also we’ll have more of a proclivity to turn to third parties or independent candidates.”
James Bell, Michael Bickelmeyer, Bruce Jaynes, Barry Kirschner, Josiah Stroh and Douglas Thomson are the other Ohioans in the write-in list. While he isn’t from Ohio, Joe Maldonado of Oklahoma may be familiar to some people here. Maldonado spent time in Ohio four years ago, fighting against a proposed bill prohibiting new ownership of exotic animals such as big cats, primates and bears while setting strict rules for existing owners. Maldonado talked a lot to reporters when he was here in 2012, when he was known as Joe Schriebvogel.
“If somebody’s going to do something, you’re not going to stop it.”
He still rails against the exotic animals law and other subjects, sometimes profanely, on his YouTube channel…
Calls to Maldonado, who’s also is known as Joe Exotic, were not returned.
Also among the non-Ohioans on the official write in list are two women, both African American – Cherunda Fox of Michigan and Monica Moorehead of the Workers World Party – she’s based in New Jersey. Possibly the best known candidate on the list is Evan McMullin, the conservative who launched an independent campaign in August and is polling well in the solidly Republican state of Utah. He talked to NPR about his campaign recently.
“We're on the ballot in 11 states, and we have ballot access in another number of states. So we have a total ballot access either as a write-in or appearing on the ballot in 34 to 35 states.”
The other official write in candidates with party labels are Tom Hoelfing, the nominee for the American Independent Party – he ran under that label in 2012 and says he placed eighth in the national popular vote; Darrell Castle represents the Constitution Party, and was its 2008 vice presidential candidate; Michael Maturen is the write in candidate for the American Solidarity Party and is certified in 25 states; and Chris Keniston of Texas – he grew up in the military and was in the Air Force and is running as a member of the Veteran Party of America. Rounding out the list are Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff, who also tried to run in 2012 and and Mike Smith of Colorado, a lawyer who describes himself as a “citizen statesman”.