Sitting in his 14th floor downtown Seattle office, Dick McCormick pulls out packet of paper he printed and stapled himself. “Appearing on the Presidential Ballot of Washington State” is splashed across the front page.
“It’s not easy running for president,” he says, dropping the packet onto his desk with a thud.
Dick McCormick isn’t a wacky billionaire or egotistical blowhard – that would at least make his 2012 run as an independent candidate for president a little less confounding. Despite the odds, this 48-year Capitol Hill resident and financial adviser seems really normal, and really serious.
“Usually the first question I get asked is ‘are you serious?’ The second is ‘do you think you can win?’ And the third is ‘yeah, but do you really think you can win?” His answer is a definitive and defiant yes on all accounts.
Full disclosure: CHS would not have heard of McCormick’s run for the highest office in the land if not for his decision to launch a lavish CHS advertising campaign supporting his candidacy. We won’t disclose his expenditure but you can see for yourself that our standard ad positions top out at $300 a month. We will say we were not paid to run this article and, in the spirit of equal time, we’ll extend offers of interviews to other competitors in the race at any time.
On June 23 McCormick is holding his official nominating convention in Volunteer Park. Seattle wedding rockers/crooners The Dudely Manlove Quartet will perform.
Apparently, you really do need a convention. Here’s a civics lesson quickie for the day: In Washington state, candidates who want their name on the ballot must hold a convention to gather verifiable signatures from 1,000 registered voters (Democratic and Republican nominees are automatically placed on the ballot). If he makes the ballot, McCormick would then have to win a majority of the vote in the general election to win the state’s 12 electoral college votes.
Of course, that’s just Washington state. McCormick has made no formal effort to make the ballot in any other state, meaning he would need to launch one hell of a viral video to garner write-in votes across the country.
McCormick says he’s confident he’ll get the 1,000 signatures, but if he doesn’t he would pursue a write-in strategy in Washington. McCormick’s brother, who lives in Tennessee, is running as his vice president.
McCormick, owner of McCormick Capital Management, has never run for public office, never had aspirations to be president. So why would a 65-year-old financial advisor with a secure retirement just around the corner bother with a practically impossible run for the nation’s highest office? War is one reason. McCormick says opposing foreign wars have been a defining issue for him since he marched against the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
Fighting the gridlock of the two-party system is another. McCormick brands himself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. In his personable, folksy style he touts simple, a-political solutions and admonishes the “tyranny” of the two major parties.
He supports full marriage equality for gay couples and civil rights protections at the federal level. He wants a universal health care system and cuts in social security to keep it fiscally solvent. He’s a states-rights proponent and wants to take a match to the tax system (see his mock explosion video of 14 reams of paper, representing the length of the U.S. tax code).
McCormick says he hasn’t voted for president since the 1980s, except his vote for Barack Obama in 2008 because of the president’s anti-war position. McCormick says Obama’s failure to extract the military from the Middle East was another major reason behind his decision to run. “He did not do what he said he would do. I’ve been very disappointed by his escalation of the wars.”
McCormick admits he’s up against some heavy odds and lots of money. Since registering with the Federal Election Commission last year, his campaign has received around $6,000 in donations. By comparison, President Obama’s campaign raised $43.6 million last month alone.
“My wife says if I lose, I have to pay all the money back,” he says.
Aside from some, ahem, small web advertisements, McCormick’s PR has consisted mainly of videos of speeches posted to his website and a song written by his neighbor. His geographical base is primarily situated along 18th Ave., where a few neighbors have put up campaign signs.
McCormick has lived on the Hill for 48 years and is a trove of Hill history. Nearly all of those years he’s spent in the same house near St. Joesph’s Church at 18th and Aloha. His wife runs a winter homeless shelter out of the church basement.
“I originally moved to Capitol Hill when it was the cheapest place to buy. Nobody wanted to live there, the houses were falling down, and the houses were all condemned around us.”
Long before the Bauhaus building squabble, McCormick was fighting to retain historic charm on Capitol Hill. While on the Capitol Hill Community Council in the 70s and 80s, McCormick says one of the biggest fights was to protect the large brick apartment buildings at the southwest corner of Volunteer Park. He was also active when Broadway’s electrical wires went underground and the “dancing feet” hit the sidewalks.
He recalled the story of an old man walking into a Capitol Hill Council meeting in the 1970s, asking to name the play field in Cal Anderson Park after Bobby Morris.
“You ask ‘well, who the hell is Bobby Morris?’ It turns out this guy’s best friend at Broadway High School was Bobby Morris … and this is what he wanted to do in honor of his friend … The Parks Department said if the Capitol Hill Community Council doesn’t have a problem with it, we don’t have a problem with it. We were pretty easy going.”