When Anyone Can Run, Everyone Does
Other choices for president range from James 'Dull' Stewart to Wyoming wolf
WASHINGTON — IF the current crop of presidential candidates leaves you uninspired, consider Fred Sitnick.
At a time when most White House hopefuls are preaching fiscal responsibility and limited government, Mr. Sitnick stands alone. His campaign motto: ''Zillions for All.''
Sitnick, who is running his campaign out of his home in Owings Mills, Md., has not raised any money yet, and a search of newspaper databases shows no indication of how the Democrat plans to implement his economic plan. In a note to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Sitnick writes only, ''If I lose, the whole world loses.''
Despite the widespread belief that Americans are disaffected with politics, there are still plenty of people, like Fred Sitnick, who dream of holding the nation's highest elected office. So far, 170 people have filed papers with the FEC announcing their intention to run for president.
Within this group, there is no shortage of fresh ideas. Take Jack Smith, for instance. The Sylmar, Calif., native has made it clear that if elected, he will go to Washington to do, well, whatever he wants. His campaign organization is called ''the Committee to Elect Jack Smith for Dictator President.'' His Slogan: ''Watch Out: Jack is Back.''
Tired of humans in the White House? You're in luck. Al Hamburg of Torrington, Wyo., has entered a gray wolf in the 1996 presidential race.
Mr. Hamburg, who entered a coyote in 1992, says his carnivorous candidate is one of the wolves set free in Yellowstone National Park this year. The ''Wyoming wolf'' candidacy, he hopes, will remind Americans how much time their government wastes on such things as reintroducing wolves into wild habitats, instead of tackling problems like unemployment and immigration.
''A lot of people work two jobs to pay their bills,'' Hamburg says, ''but nobody seems to look out for them.''
Among the would-be commanders in chief, nicknames are popular. There's Clarita ''Chi Chi'' Fazzari, Donald ''Bigfoot'' Rouse, Robert ''Uncle Torvald'' Johnson, and James ''Dull'' Stewart.
For those thirsting for a third party, there's hope: FEC records show dozens of alternatives, from the ''National Prohibition Party'' to the ''Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Voters.''
While most of these candidacies are decidedly quixotic, not all of them are broke. FEC records show that so far, 22 candidates have earned or spent more than $5,000 - the legal threshold at which financial disclosure forms must be filed.
One of this select group is Jack Fellure, a Republican from Hurricane, W. Va. Mr. Fellure, a retired construction-company manager, has entered every race since 1988, and spent more than $60,000 of his own money in the process. He has just returned from an eight-day van tour of the Southeast, where he pitched his conservative message at churches, county fairs, and bus stops, ''wherever the people were,'' he says.
Fellure first decided to seek the presidency when he realized that no mainstream candidate was saying what he is saying: that all the answers to the country's myriad problems can be found in one book - the Bible.
Another member of the top 22 is Burgess Dillard, a Trenton, N.J., resident who is representing the American People's Party. On a form submitted to the FEC, Mr. Dillard noted that he has taken out a $34,000 personal loan to finance his campaign and is willing to sell his car, his art collection, and his poetry. Since he plans to pound the pavement for votes, his first campaign expenditure was a $60 pair of Dexter shoes.
NEVERTHELESS, most of America's lesser-known presidential candidates seem to be less interested in winning than in adding something unique to the national debate.
Frank Barela of Phoenix says he decided to run because he worries that politics has taken on an amoral and racist tone. As a Hispanic American, he says he wants to forge ''a coalition of races'' to help the nation move forward.
Another hopeful, Glenn Kopitske of Eau Claire, Wis., is making his mark as the only disabled candidate. After participating in local government, Mr. Kopitske says he decided to shoot for the top. If elected, Kopitske says he will pursue a more cooperative foreign policy and work to ease environmental regulations. His slogan: ''Peace, Progress, Prosperity, and World Harmony.''
While he concedes that his $500 war chest is small by national standards, Kopitske says he has drummed up considerable support in several small Wisconsin towns. So much so, that the regulars at Dave's Dew Drop Inn in Nichols, Wis., have a new nickname for him: ''Mister President.''