CEDAR RAPIDS — Wednesday Green is running for president to speak for working people.
“Millionaires, even Bernie, don’t understand what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck,” the Ames human services worker said, referring to Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of those seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Jacob Johnston is challenging the president for the GOP nomination because he thinks “there are quite a few things being ignored even by President Donald Trump.”
“I know the economy appears to be going well, but I’m not sure we’re using right stats,” said the recent victim of corporate downsizing.
Allen “Snooks” Bouska is running just for the fun of it.
“I’m serious about following in the footsteps of my mentor — Pat Paulsen,” the former Marion mayor explained. A comedian, Paulsen was a regular on the Smothers Brothers television show who ran satirical campaigns for president from 1968 to 1996.
“It’s all tongue-in-cheek,” said Bouska, 73, who says running as the nominee of the American Independent Party should enhance his obituary.
The platform of the retired almond farmer, crop duster and Dairy Queen store owner includes making Lake Delhi a national park and renaming the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa as the National Tour de Iowa.
But there is a bit of a serious side to the Bouska campaign. The United States should “refrain from continually sending our military to hot spots around the world” and he would consider a cabinet-level position for a “secretary of peace” in order to “counter any knee-jerk military interventions.”
His solution to the immigration crisis would be to “simply move Ellis Island to El Paso, Texas, and process immigrants as we did in the old days.”
All told, 10 Iowans have filed statements saying they’re candidates for president with the Federal Election Commission.
Green and three others are Democrats. Johnston is the lone Republican. Lexie Ray Hughes is running on the Human Rights Party ticket. Daniel Boblit of Cedar Rapids has no party affiliation.
Jeremiah Hopper Sr. of Waterloo is an independent as is James Srail of Johnston. However, Srail’s campaign has been indefinitely suspended — by his parents.
“He did it as a prank,” said his father, also named James Srail. “His mother and I have told him to do whatever it takes to shut it down.”
Johnston and Green understand the long-shot nature of their campaigns, but hope to draw attention to issues they believe are important.
“I’m not delusional that I think I know it all,” said Green, 45, who grew up in north-central Iowa’s Dakota City and holds a master’s degree from Iowa State University. “I’m not thinking I will win, but I want to get my voice out there for the working class, for the underrepresented population.”
She has a dream for an America “where we all win, a new America with liberty and justice for all.” In fact, “We All Win” is her campaign slogan.
At this time, her campaign consists of going to other candidates’ events to “try to woo the media to get my story out.” That’s where Green met her first choice for a running mate — entrepreneur and Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang.
“He’s in touch with the reality that people need more money than just raising minimum wage will provide,” she said. “We have a similar humanity-first idea. Capitalism doesn’t do right by people.”
She was inspired, in part, by her 24-year-old college student daughter.
“Having a person tell you the world is ending is an inspiration,” Green said. “She and her friends have a dire outlook. They look at adults and say, ‘Who is going to solve this problem?’”
Green’s running for all the regular people “who don’t have the time and luxury to run because they have to pay the rent.”
Johnston understands that. Most working people can’t take time off work to campaign.
“Incumbents can skip a day of work whenever they want” to campaign, he said. “What I have learned is the system is set up so the average person has no chance to be able to run for office, so every time we end up electing the lesser of two evils.”
Originally from western Iowa, Johnston is a 2009 business management graduate of ISU. Working at Wells Fargo until recently, he said he has insight on the banking industry “and how it needs to be reformed.”
He also is concerned about student debt, especially because “college education is more expensive than ever and worth less than ever.” Most of what you need to know, he said, can be learned on the internet.
So he’s building a presence on social media. Johnston hopes to get a YouTube channel and start a podcast.
“If I get enough recognition, I might get enough donations to do this on a full-time basis,” Johnston said.
This is Johnston’s first foray into politics, but he may be in the political game for the long haul.
He’s 36, “so this is the first election I’m eligible to run” for president.