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Even Democratic ballot will be crowded in New Hampshire primary

For any Democrats unhappy with President Obama, Darcy Richardson says he’s your man.

The Jacksonville, Fla., native is one of 11 Democrats whose name will appear along with Obama’s on the New Hampshire primary ballot next January.

In 2008, 21 names were on the Democratic ballot, a contest ultimately won in stunning fashion by Hillary Clinton.

Though the state fashions itself as one in which even the biggest of underdogs can compete and win, few are expecting anyone other than Obama to prevail. But that’s not the point, Richardson says.

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“I appreciate New Hampshire’s welcoming attitude toward candidates, most political dreamers with no realistic chance of winning the presidency, who would otherwise be completely shut out of the nominating process,” Richardson wrote in a letter to New Hampshire’s secretary of state, mailed along with his one-page declaration of candidacy form and $1,000 filing fee.

Richardson quotes the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who once said that candidates running in New Hampshire shouldn’t get excited if they sense a groundswell of support, because “it might just be a frost heave.”

“While I fully expect to receive a somewhat cold or chilly reception from the state’s Democratic voters, especially since I’m challenging a sitting president of my own party, I nevertheless cherish the opportunity to run in your fine state,” he continued.

Richardson, an author who has run for local office in Pennsylvania, said in an email that “if ever an incumbent president deserved an intraparty challenge,” it’s Obama.

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He hadn’t intended to run -- he hoped former Labor Secretary Robert Reich would -- but decided to do so when it became clear that no “progressive Democrat of some national stature” would.

“I personally like President Obama, but I think he’s in way over his head when it comes to dealing effectivey with the U.S. economy,” he said.

Richardson will file in some other states as well, but New Hampshire’s requirements are among the most welcoming for a long-shot like him -- intentionally so, state leaders say.

The focus when New Hampshire voters do head to the polls will be, of course, on the Republican race. Twenty-four candidates had filed by Thursday, and at least two more -- former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- were slated to do so Friday. It’d break the record for Republicans on the ballot.

Along with Perry and Johnson on the GOP ballot will be Joe Robinson of Newton, Mass. The “self-employed inventor” filed in person on Tuesday, paying his $1,000 filing fee in cash.

When Mitt Romney had come to file a day earlier, the small office was jammed with supporters and members of the media there to document the moment. When Robinson did so, the only camera rolling was the one belonging to the secretary of state’s office -- they record every filing, no matter how famous the entrant.

Robinson, a Republican, had not campaigned at all yet in the state. Asked about his chances, he said: “In one sense they could be zero, in the other sense they could be very high.”

“It depends how fed up the people are.”


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