Kent State graduate eyes White House

Jeff Russ

Ohio native offers an alternative to McCain and Obama options

Aurora native and Kent State graduate Richard Duncan is running for President of the United States and has his name on the Ohio ballot. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

John McCain and Barack Obama got their names on the ballot for president after years in city, state and national government. Richard Duncan got his at Cleveland malls and Progressive Field.

“About 10 years ago, I started writing away on how to do it in Ohio,” Duncan said about getting on the ballot. “But about five years (ago), my daughter was in a government class, and I decided I better do it now, so I started collecting signatures for 2008 then. Since then, I collected 13,000 signatures.”

An Aurora native and Kent State graduate, 55-year-old Duncan is a lesser known presidential candidate whose name appears on the ballot for president in Ohio. He was a write-in candidate in 2004, but getting his name on the ballot was a decade-long dream.



• Three main tools to improve cities:

Remove blighted areas and replace with industrial parks, housing and improving schools

• He said once those areas get up and running, businesses will not have to relocate overseas.


• Said nine of 10 soldiers he talks to support the war in Iraq

• Called Iraq “a good area to be in both strategically and militaristically, but the cost of lives and tax dollars must be curtailed drastically or at least attempted to be cut back.”

• Would not pull out of Iraq


He began his quest to become president by hanging out in highly congested areas – Indians, Reds and Cavs games; large malls and county fairs – and asking people to sign his petition to get on the ballot.

After years of anticipation, Duncan received a letter from the office of the Ohio Secretary of State on Sept. 19 informing him his name would be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“There was a great interest in giving me the opportunity to help out,” Duncan said. “There were a lot of people who were set on party affiliation who would politely say ‘that’s OK,’ but it was a very enlightening experience. It showed that people are open to new political leaders.”

Getting a vice president on board was another adventure in itself. He originally had a different running mate from Houston, but complications forced him to drop out. Duncan found his current running mate, Ricky Johnson, on a independent registered list, and after the two talked, both sides were on board.

Johnson, a minister in Farrell, Pa., will not be able to vote for himself because he does not live in Ohio. He used to live here, though – he was a general manager for Denny’s restaurants in Ohio for 15 years. He sees this experience as something he can translate into the White House.

“It gives you tremendous people skills,” he said. “People skills is Denny’s claim to fame. You have to work with the people out front and alleviate concerns. You are in the people arena at Denny’s, and it gives you a birds-eye view on how to treat people.”

But although Duncan has a platform, campaign and his name on the ballot, he knows he doesn’t have the money to compete with the major party candidates.

Obama raised a record $150 million in September alone, and McCain accepted $85 million in federal funds for the last two months of the campaign.

Duncan and Johnson have only spent money on printing, gas and hotel rooms and used investment properties he has for funding.

“For us to get our voice out, we need money,” Johnson said. “Ross Perot didn’t need anyone else’s money. If money is not an issue, you don’t need to free up time for work, and you can be at that same venue as the top candidates.”

Perot was the last third party candidate to have a successful campaign. He received almost 11 percent of the vote in 1996 and 21 percent in 1992, due in part to fact that he could raise funding, and he participated in national presidential debates.

If Duncan and Johnson were at the debate with Obama and McCain, they would ask them to be more transparent with people.

“The best thing for them to do politically is to not have specific plans,” Duncan said. “Half of the campaign is spent attacking the person when more time should be spent on planning.”

But no matter what happens on Nov. 4 or 5, the campaign has already been a success.

“It’s a very rewarding thing when you can try to help the public,” Duncan said. “I’m doing something I always wanted to do. I’ll probably vote in the early evening, and then have a party at my daughter’s house.”

Contact public affairs reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].