For most voters, Republican and Democratic candidates seem to be the only viable presidential options.
But come November, eight third-party candidates, including a 28-year-old, a Duluth head shop owner and a University of Minnesota alumnus, will fill out the Minnesota ballot.
For this eclectic group of third-party candidates, the election season is more a battle for recognition than for the White House. Resigned to the fact they won’t win, they fight on to get out their message.
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is considered the front-runner among third-party candidates.
The former governor of New Mexico has gained some steam recently, but according to National Public Radio, he didn’t meet the criteria of poll at 15 percent with voters to get invited to the presidential debate.
Former Gov. Jesse Ventura described Johnson as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.”
His platform includes tighter federal spending and removing American troops from Afghanistan.
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson represents the Justice Party. The one-time Democrat said he threw his hat in the ring after becoming disgusted with the corporate interests influencing the two major parties.
“[Democrats and Republicans] are both equally up for sale to the highest bidder and both feeding from the same trough of special interest money,” Anderson said.
Anderson participated in a debate with Green Party candidate Jill Stein after being excluded from Obama and Romney’s debate.
Beyond corporations influencing politics, Anderson is concerned with wealth disparity and repealing the Patriot Act.
University of Minnesota alumnus Dean Morstad decided to run for president as an independent when he became frustrated with corporations and special interest groups abusing the system, he said.
“Instead of continuing to try and use the old rules to stop corporations and special interests from siphoning off money and profiting off the people of America, I just want to take away the cookie jar,” he said. “Let’s take away the incentive for corruption.”
Morstad is an advocate for states’ rights and believes a lot of issues — like education and health care — aren’t for the federal government to deal with.
Like most other third-party candidates, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode is also against large money donations and refuses any in excess of $200. His website states that he won’t accept corporate contributions either.
Goode, who served as both a Democrat and Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a staunch opponent of illegal immigration and Obamacare.
His platform is centered on following the Constitution, which he said will lead to smaller government.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein is a former physician and wants to offer a “Green New Deal” that promises to create jobs in the renewable energy industry.
As a third-party candidate, Stein expressed frustration at being excluded from presidential debates.
“[Obama and Romney] both lost the debate,” she said. “In fact, the American people lost the debate because we were shut out.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate Peta Lindsay isn’t old enough to legally become president, but she’s running as a protest against the exclusion of young people from political decision-making.
“We’re running a young candidate kind of as a protest, to say that there’s not much room for young people in the electoral system right now, but there’s room in the struggle,” Lindsay said.
The anti-war activist is particularly interested in eliminating student debt and making higher education free.
Jim Carlson is a controversial businessman from Duluth, Minn. Carlson owns The Last Place on Earth, a head shop that has been raided for selling synthetic drugs in the past.
He received the Grassroots Party nomination for president in July.
His main goals, according to Northland’s News Center, are to “legalize marijuana and limit the size of government.”
James Harris is the Socialist Workers Party candidate. Harris could not be reached for comment and does not have a website.