News & Politics

Pigasus, the Naked Cowboy, and Other Presidential Candidates Who Never Had a Shot

A new book looks at fringe candidates, including a guy backed by space people.

Photograph by Taylor Hill/Getty.

Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, Al Gore, and . . . Pigasus? Local author Mark Stein’s new book, The Presidential Fringe, chronicles esoteric former political aspirants. Here are a few standouts.


Youth International Party, 1968

The Yippies nominated a 155-pound pig as their candidate just days before the eventful Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago. Police arrested seven Yippies on charges of animal cruelty. Rather than to the White House, their nominee was sent to animal control.

Gabriel Green

Universal Flying Saucer Party, 1960 and 1972

A photographer from Whittier, California, Green decided to run after space people urged him to, he said at the time. He ended his first bid a week before the election, blaming the fact that “not enough Americans have yet seen flying saucers or talked to outer space people.”

Vermin Supreme. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia.
Vermin Supreme. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia.

Naked Cowboy

Conservative Tea Party, 2012

Ohio native Robert Burck wears a cowboy hat and tighty-whities while strumming a guitar in Times Square. Tourists who pay him for selfies probably don’t recall his non-starter candidacy. The most surprising detail? At the press conference announcing his run, he wore a suit and tie.

Vermin Supreme

Libertarian Party, 1992 to Present

This perennial candidate has a long gray beard and wears an enormous boot as a hat. An activist and artist, he seems weirdly preoccupied with teeth-brushing, and he promises, if elected, to give each American a free pony.

This article appears in the March 2020 issue of Washingtonian.

Nora McGreevy
Editorial Fellow

Nora McGreevy joined Washingtonian as an editorial fellow in January. Originally from South Bend, she has worked for The Boston Globe and the South Bend Tribune. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame.