CONWAY — Who knew that Nobody was running for governor in the New Hampshire Republican Primary?
Jim LeFebvre of North Conway, who serves as first vice-chair of the Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee and also sits on the board of the Carroll County Republican Committee, was shocked to hear that news when reached by phone last week.
“You’ve flabbergasted me,” he said. “I can’t believe that somebody is not listed.”
A reporter told him that “somebody” was not listed but that Nobody was.
After explaining that Nobody is an actual person challenging incumbent Chris Sununu of Newfields and Karen Testerman of Franklin in the GOP gubernatorial primary, LeFebvre admitted: “You just busted my chops. Can I now extract the fish hook from my jaw? You got me good.”
Nobody is a real person from Keene, formerly known as Rich Paul, who legally changed his name in August 2019, according to the political website Ballotpedia.
“Nobody (Republican Party) (also known as Rich Paul) is running for election for Governor of New Hampshire. He is on the ballot in the Republican primary on September 8, 2020,” the site states.
The 50-year-old is making his second bid for political office this year. Last fall, he ran for mayor of Keene in the non-partisan primary against two city councilors.
In that contest, Mitchell Greenwald received 1,113 to George Hansel’s 1,111, while Nobody finished a distant third with 47 votes.
In the general, Hansel, a Republican, beat Greenwald, a Democrat, 2,587-2,313.
According to a Boston Globe article, Nobody is a Michigan native who, while born Richard Goyan Paul, changed his name because he “wanted to give his neighbors in his southwest New Hampshire town the option of literally voting for ‘Nobody.’”
Signs posted around Keene, according to the Globe, read “Nobody tells the truth, Nobody can fix the economy and Nobody cares about the poor.”
Attempts to reach Nobody were unsuccessful.
“I do know of Nobody,” Bill Gardner, N.H. secretary of state, told the Sun on July 24. Gardner said the candidate was disappointed there was no media coverage at the statehouse when he filed for the office.
“Nobody knew that Nobody was coming,” Gardner quipped.
Gardner said Nobody is not the first candidate to seek state office with just one name. “We did have someone run as ‘human’ in Rochester for state representative,” he said. That would be David Montenegro, who ran for representative in Strafford County District 8 in 2014 after changing his name to human the year before. He lost.
“He actually got upset when he saw his name on the ballot because he wanted a capital ‘H’ in front of his name,” said Gardner, but the state went by the paperwork Montenegro filed when legally changing his name, and used a lower-case h.
Others have used similar gambits across the country.
In 2012, according to ABC News, “Voters in South Florida’s 25th Congressional District will see an unfamiliar option on congressional ballots today: 32-year-old first-time candidate VoteForEddie.com. Voters in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, meanwhile, will see a familiar choice: 72-year-old strawberry farmer “Pro-Life,” who is making his fourth consecutive bid for major office.”