Although his running mate Che Guevara died over forty years ago, write-in Student Association presidential candidate Dennis Petersen remains confident he will win the SA election this week.
His grassroots campaign, which is based mostly on the social networking site Facebook.com, outlines a plan to demolish several campus buildings and fund an SA capitol building using endowment money.
“People are afraid of me as a candidate because they know I’m going to shake things up,” said Petersen, a senior. He insists that he’s not a joke candidate, but instead the only real candidate in a joke election.
Although humorous presidential candidates have become SA tradition in recent years, ballots this week will not feature any “joke” campaigns. The several potential candidates who pondered making a less-than-serious run for the SA presidency said they were impeded by the 460 signatures necessary to become a candidate.
Two years ago, two joke campaigns donned the SA elections with one candidate even stripping down to his underwear during a formal SA debate. Last year, one student was the lone joker throughout the election. This year, no joke candidates will be on the ballot so students will only be able to vote for the jokers by writing in their names.
“I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t (a joke candidate this year),” said senior Lamar Thorpe, the SA President, “because joke candidates always bring something unique to the campaign.”
“They bring a little humor to people who sometimes take themselves too seriously,” Thorpe added.
Current write-in joke SA presidential candidate sophomore Eric Walker said that it was his experience in the SA that inspired him to start his own tongue-in-cheek campaign this year. Walker, who is formerly presidential candidate Nicole Capp’s senate campaign manager last year, is soliciting write-in votes under the name “Cockass McDouchebag.”
“When I first got the opportunity to run (Capp’s) campaign I was pretty excited,” Walker said, “but it was just a huge letdown because (senators) don’t have any real power.”
Walker said that he did not feel it was worthwhile to collect 460 signatures for a joke campaign, and that he hopes his Facebook supporters will write his name on the ballot this week.
“I think it’s overall a good thing to have some sort of humorous candidate,” Walker said, “but I don’t expect the people in my (Facebook) group to vote.”
Senior Danny Mittelberger, a self-described joke candidate from last year’s election, who ran under the slogan “apathy, humility and crazy hats,” said that humorous campaigns draw attention to an otherwise unpopular event.
“People would be more interested in watching (the election) if they saw that they could have some entertainment,” Mittelberger said.
Though Joint Elections Committee Chair Laura Bentele is unsure why no joke candidates have stepped forward to be on the ballot for this year’s election, she said that humorous campaigns are always welcomed in the process as long as they do not impede the campaigns of serious candidates.
“(Joke candidates) reassure students that not everyone is taking themselves too seriously,” said Bentele, a sophomore.
Former joke candidate senior Ryan “Lex” Luther said that edgy politics can be beneficial for more serious candidates. Luther, who promised to destroy all women’s bathrooms on campus when he ran two years ago, said he purposefully showed Thorpe the wrong way to run a campaign.
“The women’s restroom thing hurt us with the women voters a little bit,” Luther said, “and Lamar learned what not to do.”