Watch out frontrunners, over 1,500 candidates vying for White House

Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:15am EST
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Michael Petyo is a carpenter, a U.S. Navy veteran, a grandfather and Russian Orthodox church cantor who likes to boast about his homemade nut rolls. He also happens to be a candidate for president of the United States.

The 66-year-old Indiana man has no big financial backers, little political experience outside of two failed runs for Congress and his odds of winning are almost nil. But that has not stopped him from thinking he is the one to succeed President Barack Obama.

Petyo is among a rising number of Americans who aspire to be president, due to what psychology experts describe as growing narcissism, distrust of leadership and the power of social media to reach the public.

Joining more than 1,500 others, according to the Federal Election Commission, Petyo admits he is a long shot, but figures he just needs some attention: "How do they know I'm not the next guy waiting in the wings?"

The number of candidates seeking the White House has more than tripled from 417 in 2012, though some entrants have penned in possibly fictitious names such as "Disco Daddy" and "Darth Vader."

Their ranks include Susan Young, a California social studies teacher aiming to give her students a lesson in democracy, Terry Jones, the Florida pastor known for organizing Koran burnings, and anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee.

Another candidate, Edie Bukewihge, included her grandma’s chili recipe on her web site:, along with the promise that the last two years of her term could be boring because she will have repaired the country’s “damages.”

These hopefuls are not a factor in polls that show businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas battling for the Republican nomination and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading the Democratic field ahead of next month's Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.   Continued...

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Michael Petyo leaves a voice message while campaigning in downtown Chicago, Illinois, November 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young