Steinman vs. Steinman and Other Surprises on Your 2020 MO Presidential Primary Ballot

Velma Steinman is running for President on the Democratic ballot in the 2020 Missouri presidential primary. So is Leonard Steinman III, her husband. Who knew?

With one week to go before the MO presidential primary election, you may be starting to think about who to vote for. You may even have received a sample ballot from your county election board. It’s worth looking at, because it includes some surprises, like Steinman vs. Steinman.

I received my sample ballot a few days ago, and although I’ve made up my mind about which party’s ballot I’m going to request, I unfolded the mailer just because I was curious. And inside, there were, indeed, some unexpected twists, most notably the inter-household Steinman contest, but others as well. I looked up all the lesser-known people, so you don’t have to, and here’s what I found. (By the way, candidates must pay a $1,000 filing fee to the Missouri Secretary of State to get their names on the presidential primary ballot. That’s probably a way to try to keep out the weirdos and clowns. A few — just a few — of the following listings may make you wonder if the hurdle is high enough.)

Democratic Party

The Democratic ballot is the longest, with 22 names. Among the 22 are the current leaders as of March 1, 2020; the well-known also-rans and dropouts; a few mysteries, like the Steinmans; and good old, perpetual, local candidate-for-everything, William C. (Bill) Haas.

Leonard Steinman and Velma Steinman: It turns out that this is not the Steinmans’ first political rodeo. According to Ballotpedia, Leonard ran as a Democrat for Missouri Governor in 2016. In 2014, he ran as a Republican for the U.S. House to represent the 3rd Congressional District of Missouri. In 2012, he was a Libertarian candidate for Governor, but withdrew from the race. He has also run for mayor of Jefferson City and for Cole County Western District commissioner. He is a retired truck driver who earned a degree in welding technologies from Columbia College.

Velma Steinman opposed her husband in the 2014 3rd District Congressional race, running as a Democrat in the primary. She lost. When asked why, in 2014 by the News-Tribune, they were running against each other in that 2014 contest, Velma said, “”People think we’re doing this as a lark. They think it’s funny. But I think it shows that husbands and wives can have separate views and still work together. Congress can do the same.” Leonard said: “One way or another, we’re going to get into Congress and open people’s eyes up.”

Henry Hewes: If you choose the Democratic ballot, you’ll also notice Henry Hewes, a real estate developer and another perennial candidate. He has run for Mayor of New York City and for the U.S. Senate as the nominee of the Right to Life Party. Why he is running as a Democrat is a mystery.

Roque De La Fuente:  Known as “Rocky,” De La Fuente is a Mexican-American businessman, and another perennial candidate according to Wikipedia. In the 2016 election, he was the nominee of both the Reform Party and his self-created American Delta Party. During the 2018 election, De La Fuente was on the ballot in nine states’ primaries for U.S. Senate, all of which he lost. He campaigned as a critic of Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Curiously, Wikipedia lists him as a running for president in 2020 as a Republican, but he is on the Missouri primary ballot as a Democrat. He withdrew from the Missouri Republican primary in January 2020. He has a complicated history of filing for office, having his filings challenged by state Republican parties, and lodging suits against them. In 2020, he is simultaneously running as Republican for the U.S. House of Representatives in California’s 21st district.

Steve Burke:  Burke is the senior executive vice president of cable giant Comcast and chairman of NBCUniversal. He ran for president as a Democrat in 2016. According to Wikipedia, Burke is among more than 250 individuals who filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) declaring that they were candidates for the presidency. Burke is among the few who have actually made an effort to get their names on the ballot anywhere. Apparently, his effort worked in Missouri.

Robby Wells: Yet another perennial candidate, Wells unsuccessfully sought the Constitution Party’s nomination for president of the United States in the 2012 presidential election, according to Wikipedia. He ran again in 2016, as an independent. He played football at Furman University and coached football at high schools and colleges from 1990 to 2010.

Republican Party

It takes a lot of courage to oppose an incumbent president, but especially one like Donald Trump. Kudos to those who dare.

Of course, Donald Trump is the first name listed. Beneath him, you’ll find Bill Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts, whose challenge to Trump is brave, but quixotic. Joe Walsh, the former Illinois congressman and outspoken conservative talk show host has already withdrawn, but remains on the Missouri ballot. But if you choose the Republican primary ballot, you may find a few unfamiliar names, as well.

Bob Ely: Ely is an American entrepreneur and former investment banker. His website describes him as “party fluid, no experience, and the charisma of a doorknob.” The website is sponsored by the “Bob Ely is your least-worst alternative for president committee. He promised, in two categories of issues labeled as “boring and “less boring,” to stop robocalls, and says the country needs “hardworking immigrants to help pay our debt.” He promised he would be a better Trump.

Matthew John Matern: Californian Matern is a lawyer, philanthropist and entrepreneur. He says, “The more I talk to voters, particularly Republican voters, I feel a growing disenchantment toward Donald Trump. I’m running to give these voters a voice.”  His platform is to “return the Republican Party to its core values of civility, fundamental fairness for every American.” He is proposing a 100% tax cut on American families making less than $100,000 a year.

Libertarian Party

It’s been my observation over the years that the Libertarian Party can be reliably counted on to field candidates at all levels. For president in 2020, the Missouri ballot lists one: Jacob Hornberger, a Texas-based attorney, author and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Green Party

Ralph Nader was the first person to run as a candidate for president under the Green Party banner, in 1996. He was on the ballot in 22 states and received 0.7% of all votes cast.

Howie Hawkins:  Co-founder, in 2001, of the Green Party of the United States, Hawkins calls himself the “Original Green New Dealer.” He supports a plan that would move the U.S. to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030, utilizing a carbon tax, jobs guarantee, free college, single-payer healthcare and a focus on using public programs.

Dario Hunter:  A lawyer, rabbi and educator from Youngstown, Ohio, Hunter is the first Muslim-born man to be ordained as a rabbi. He supports the Green New Deal, and he would guarantee basic income, employment, housing, food and other essentials of life.

David Rolde: Calling himself the “anti-imperialist, anti-war candidate,” Rolde calls for the complete elimination of the U.S. military and weapons industry. He describes himself as a “revolutionary communist anti-imperialist activist from Massachusetts.”

Constitution Party

Calling itself “the party of integrity, liberty and prosperity,” the Constitution Party’s presidential candidates historically have received around 0.1% of the General Election vote. In 2016, the party reached a milestone, receiving over 200,000 votes for president for the first time. It has two candidates on the Missouri 2020 presidential primary ballot.

Don Blankenship: His name may be familiar because of the headlines he garnered as chairman and CEO of the Massey Energy Company—the sixth largest coal company in the U.S–from 2000 until his retirement in 2010. In 2016, he was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety and health standards that led to the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia, which killed 29 miners. He was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $250,000.  He has continued to maintain his innocence.

Don J. Grundmann: A chiropractor from Oakland, California, Grundmann ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress in 2016.

Make good choices

Of course, you already know that when you to go vote, whether in-person absentee, mail-in absentee or on election day, you’ll have to decide which party ballot to choose. In Missouri, unlike in many other states, voter registration does NOT include party affiliation. The primary is open, meaning that you can vote on any party’s ballot, without declaring allegiance to that party. Voting on a party’s ballot does not make you a member of that party.

You have a lot of choices on March 10 in Missouri. But, as in all elections—and especially in the critical November 2020 presidential—the most important choice you’ll make is to vote.