Independent and third-party candidates can offer a reasonable alternative to the increasingly gridlocked two-party system. Or they can be complete nutjobs who somehow convince 10,000 other crazy people to sign a petition that allows them the opportunity to hold political office and influence the lives of normal, sane citizens. With the 2014 Midterm Elections approaching, here are the 10 craziest independent candidates people actually can vote for on November 4th.
1. Iowa’s Bob Quast, who loves brandishing firearms
Quast is an independent candidate running for Iowa’s open Senate seat. The two issue he’s hitting hardest on the campaign trail are term limits and the Second Amendment. While his values may be fairly uncontroversial, a video he made last spring was not. In the ad, Quast shows off his handgun and pocketknife while threatening to “blow the balls off” any intruder who enters his home. No word on whether he’s been endorsed by George Zimmerman.
2. Idaho’s John Bujak, who loves going to court so much he’s been on trial five times
Bujak once served as a prosecutor in Idaho’s Canyon County, but now he’s spending less time taking his colleagues out for drinks and more time battling them in court. The Libertarian candidate running in the state’s Governor’s race has been taken to trial five times in recent years on various charges of corruption, including allegations that he stole several hundred thousand dollars of public funds and that he hid his wife’s rolex from creditors while declaring bankruptcy. Bujak represented himself in all five trials and did not get convicted in any of them, so you can’t accuse of him of being incompetent (just crooked).
3. South Carolina’s Thomas Ravenel, who snorted a lot of cocaine and stars on a reality show
Ravenel actually could’ve been a powerful politician had he played his cards right. He’s the son of a former South Carolina congressman and became State Treasurer in 2006. Then he bought 500 grams of cocaine because being on the fast track to the Governor’s seat apparently wasn’t enough excitement. After prosecutors filed charges against Ravenel, Gov. Mark Sanford (yes, that Mark Sanford) suspended him as Treasurer. If Mark Sanford deems your behavior worthy of suspension, you know you really fucked up. The charges didn’t entirely derail Ravenel’s career. Using his history as a rich kid who used cocaine, Ravenel landed a spot on the Bravo reality television show Southern Charm where he apparently goes by the nickname “T-Rav.”
Now that his entertainment career’s taken off, he’s decided to run as an Independent against Republican Lindsey Graham for South Carolina’s Senate seat. He definitely won’t win but wouldn’t it be worth it to hear, “The Senate now recognizes Senator T-Rav on the floor.”
4. New Hampshire’s Joe Visconti, who thinks he’s a modern-day Paul Revere
Visconti isn’t the most bizarre candidate on this list. The New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate wants to create a voting coalition that includes “Common Core critics, country music fans, gun owners, tea party types, Reagan Democrats, classic car enthusiasts and Italians.” Unlikely, but not insane. What earns Visconti a spot on this list is his attention-seeking tactics. The former South Florida TV producer once rode on horseback to the New Hampshire governor’s mansion and yelled excerpts from the Declaration of Independence using a megaphone. So clearly this is a candidate who’s passionate about traditional values.
5. Michigan’s Mark McFarlin, who uses his P.I. skills to prove Obama’s not American
McFarlin spends a lot of time bouncing around political parties. After announcing his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for the Michigan governor’s race, he eventually switched to the Republican primary instead. He failed to qualify for the ballot but that didn’t stop him from entering the general election as the nominee for the U.S. Taxpayers Party (which may or may not exist). McFarlin’s greatest claim to fame is his belief that President Obama’s birth certificate is fake. The former private investigator claims the real certificate would list the president as “Negro,” not “African-American.” I guess one man’s detective’s intuition is another man’s racism.
6. Vermont’s Peter Diamondstone, who even Bernie Sanders thinks is too leftist
Diamondstone represents the Liberty Union Party, a political party in Vermont that’s existed since 1969. Former Senator Sanders joined the party in 1970 but Diamondstone kicked him out in the 1980s for being too mainstream. When the only Socialist in the Senate is too moderate for your political party, I think that qualifies you as a fringe group. Also Diamondstone wore suspenders and jorts to the Vermont governor’s debate.
The jorts alone would earn him a spot on this list.
7. Vermont’s Cris Ericson, who believes in chemtrails and that Vermont is about to get nuked
We go back to Vermont to meet Ericson. She’s also made some questionable fashion choices but that’s not why she’s on the list.
Ericson’s said some pretty crazy things. During the Vermont governor’s debate, she accused incumbent Gov. Pete Shumlin of denying his employees the right to use the bathroom. She later said that fighter jets in the sky release aluminum nanoparticles that contribute to Global Warming a.k.a. the “Chemtrails” conspiracy theory. Later she warned that an atomic bomb may accidentally fall on Vermont if one of the other candidates is elected. So she’s clearly not courting the “rational people” vote.
8. Idaho’s Marvin Richardson, who changed his name to Pro-Life
Richardson is another independent candidate running for governor in Idaho. You won’t see his name on the ballot because he changed his name to “Pro-Life” to prove his passion for denying women the freedom to do what they want with their bodies. Pro-Life ran in several elections prior to this year’s but lost all of them. He says he’ll keep running until he dies. The only way he ever wins is if every Pro-Life voter in Idaho mistakenly thinks they need to identify their abortion stance at the top of a ballot, which isn’t entirely unreasonable.
9. Massachusetts’ Scott Lively, who hates Nazis and Gays (although are they really that different?)
Lively is an evangelical pastor and candidate for governor in Massachusetts. That’s the only sentence that can be written about Lively that doesn’t make him sound like a raving lunatic. Where to begin? First he co-wrote a book called The Pink Swastika that argues the Holocaust began because gays in the Nazi Party wanted to eliminate the Jews because their religion banned homosexuality. He continued his anti-gay agenda in Uganda where he spoke to the country’s politicians about the horrors of man-on-man sex, which led to the passing of a law making homosexuality punishable by life in prison. Most recently Lively appeared in a Russian documentary that insinuated that Americans live under an umbrella of fear created by gays. (Although how scary can a rainbow-colored umbrella really be?) And he’s running for governor in Massachusetts, the first state to recognize and license same-sex marriage. Good luck with that, Scott.
10. California’s Robert Newman, who God wants to run the state
Newman ran for governor of California three times prior to this year’s election, obviously all unsuccessfully. So why does this perennial loser keep trying? Because God wants him to. Newman says while working with his pigs and praying to God (killing two birds with one stone), the Lord spoke to him and said, “Be the governor.” That was in 2003, and Newman’s no closer to becoming governor. Someone should tell Newman that God enjoys pulling pranks on his most faithful followers. (See: Book of Job.)
BONUS: Idaho’s Harley Brown and Walt Bayes, who made the state’s GOB Primary debate the craziest thing ever
Although neither of these two candidates are still in the running for any political office, it’d be crazy not to include them on a list of the most insane candidates of 2014. Brown is a member of a biker organization and Bayes is a…uh…crazy guy? Both of them ran for the Republican nomination for the Idaho gubernatorial race and while they lost handily the video of their performance at the candidates’ debate is one of the funniest things you’ll watch all year.
Joseph Misulonas is an intern for Playboy.com. When not researching alternatives to the ex post facto electoral system, he can be found on Twitter at @jmisulonas.