NHIOP Hosts Forum for Lesser-Known Candidates

February 18, 2020

By Alexis Soucy

Over a dozen presidential candidates shed light on their campaigns at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ Lesser-Known Candidates Forum on January 28.

A first-in-the-nation tradition since 1972, the quadrennial event invites nonmainstream candidates for president on the New Hampshire primary ballot to take part in a moderated forum in front of voters and media outlets. Traveling from as far as California and Texas to participate, the candidates shared their stances on top issues in the 2020 race.

Josh McElveen of McElveen Strategies, LLC, served as moderator while Holly Ramer of The Associated Press and John DiStaso of WMUR joined him as panelists. The first half of the forum featured seven candidates running for the Democratic nomination, with topics of discussion including gun control, impeachment, college debt, and the opioid crisis.

Rather than discuss the impeachment process, Robby Wells of Georgia wanted to focus on what the country would get with him in office, which he said was, “A president that will make every decision based on number one; is this constitutional? And number two; is this for the betterment of the people of the United States?”

Mosie Boyd of Arkansas and the only female candidate on the stage said she believes the top priority of the election should be choosing the candidate best suited to protect democracy.

Former military intelligence officer Jason Dunlap of Arizona said what keeps him up at night is foreign interference in our elections. Raymond Moroz of New York echoed his concern about cyber warfare, stating, “If you think they’re not coming again, you’re wrong.” 

Sam Sloan of New York, Mark Stewart of Connecticut, and David Thistle of Texas also contributed their thoughts on various issues in the Democratic forum.

The Republican half of the forum led to further discussions about gun control and impeachment, and allowed the six candidates to explain why they are rivaling President Donald Trump.

Robert Ardini of New York said his campaign slogan says it all: “A moderate Republican even a Democrat can like.” He describes himself as financially conservative and socially moderate, and believes his experience running for Congress helped him develop bipartisan solutions that he could bring to the table if elected president.

President R. Boddie of Georgia, who legally changed his first name to President and shared that he is legally blind, told the crowd, “I may not have 20/20 vision but I have a vision for 2020.” He said he is only running for president because “the spirit of the living God ordered [him] to do so.” 

On the topic of artificial intelligence, self-described transhumanist Zoltan Istvan of California explained that he would like to transition to a science-industrial complex and cut military spending because it would help the country “fight wars like cancer and heart disease” instead.

Stephen B. Comley, Sr., of Massachusetts, believes that science and technology are what made America great, and wants to embrace those initiatives again and invest in innovation.

New Hampshire natives William Murphy and Mary Maxwell were the first to say that New Hampshire should remain first in the presidential primary process, but the other four candidates readily agreed.

Overall, there were 17 names on the Republican ballot and 33 names on the Democratic ballot during New Hampshire’s presidential primary election on February 11.