Boys unleash a longshot candidate — their dog
CHICAGO — Running for president is so easy, even a dog can do it.
Or at least the dog's name can appear on the Federal Election Commission's list of nearly 800 potential candidates for president.
Candidate ID P60009883, also known as Bailey D. Dog, is a black Labrador who lives with the Rubin family of northwest suburban Long Grove. He was thrust into politics by Jacob Rubin, 14, and his brother, Jonathan, 12.
"We had no idea what our sons were up to," their mother, Judy, said. "We (she and her husband, Bob) were in Florida, and our sons were having these random conversations about Bailey running for president."
Form 2: To introduce Bailey into presidential politics, the Rubin brothers filled out a Form 2, a "statement of candidacy," which is required for presidential candidates within 15 days of raising or spending more than $5,000. Filling out the form starts a process in which the FEC can track a campaign's money. However, a candidate need not spend or raise a penny, or even be serious about running for office. The form is online, and the FEC is required to check it and publish the results no matter who fills it out or his or her intentions. (Getting on ballots is a different matter, and the process varies by state.)
A burst of candidates, some quite nontraditional, has the FEC processing significantly more of these forms than any presidential race in the last 40 years, a duty that can distract from the group's primary job of tracking campaign funds.
A candidate's eligibility to run for office is irrelevant to the FEC.
"The agency has no authority and makes no judgment on a individual's qualifications or eligibility to run for office or obtain ballot access," said Christian Hilland, FEC deputy press officer, in an email.
The candidate: When the Tribune noticed that a local dog was on the FEC's list, it reached out to Jacob Rubin, a freshman at Stevenson High School.
"Bailey is a black Labrador retriever who was born and rescued in Indiana," Jacob said in an email. "His exact age is unknown, but he is estimated to be between 4-5 years old in human years, which would make him about 35 in dog years, thus making him eligible to run for president."
Eligible if he were a human being. The Constitution requires the president to be both a "person" and a "citizen."
Jacob said the process of registering a presidential candidate was simple.
"To file, you just need to either mail a statement of candidacy to the FEC, or you can file online," Jacob said.
On the list: Plenty of other names on the FEC's list are mock candidates. There's "Tom Brady's Sketch," a reference to an unattractive courtroom drawing of the NFL quarterback that went viral recently. There's also a cat from Arizona.
The ease with which people can add names to the FEC list was highlighted when an Iowa teen submitted "Deez Nuts" as a candidate, and a pollster included that name in a survey. "Deez Nuts" attracted 9 percent support in North Carolina, trailing Donald Trump (40 percent) and Hillary Clinton (38 percent).
The number of candidates on the FEC list — 768 as of Sunday — easily eclipses the 419 in 2012 and the 366 in 2008 With more filings on its plate compared to last election, and the media onslaught of the fake candidates, the FEC has its hands full.
Not surprising: "We've always had protest candidates of various sorts," said Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa. "It seems pretty obvious that things can spread pretty quickly via social media."
"That the number of these 'mock' candidates has grown is not surprising given the nature of this particular election," said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Washington-based Campaign Legal Center. "First, there is no incumbent running. Second, the leading Democrat is a woman. Third, the leading candidate for the Republicans is an outspoken businessman who is shocking the political world. Fourth, this election will likely solidify a generational change in political leadership that started with (President Barack) Obama."
Bailey: Another new element this time around: Bailey D. Dog.
"I was inspired to register Bailey after reading an article about all the wacky presidential candidates that are running," Jacob Rubin said.
Bailey has taken stands on the issues, Jacob said.
"Bailey does like socializing with both animals and humans, eating gourmet cheese, barking at trucks, taking walks and playing tug of war," he said. "The only two things Bailey greatly dislikes is swimming (he is very afraid of the water) and postmen."
The Long Grove canine can be described as a democratic socialist, Jacob said.
"Bailey supports helping the homeless, as he was once a homeless dog, doesn't believe in the death penalty, as when he was rescued from a high-kill shelter, he was just days from his planned euthanasia."
The dog's campaign website, bailey2016.weebly.com, features his slogan: Forward Pawgress.