Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Columnist-Candidates Throw Their Press Hats into the Ring

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Columnist-Candidates Throw Their Press Hats into the Ring

Article excerpt

THEY'RE THE WRITE WING OF ANY POLITICAL PARTY

Presidential wannabe Dave Barry tells voters he was born in the same log cabin as Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Vice-presidential hopeful J.R. Lieber also boasts of log-cabin origins - in New York City.

Virginia-based Steve Clark changes his name to Sven Clarkson to seek a U.S. "Svenate" seat in North Dakota. Stu Bykofsky runs for mayor of Philadelphia on everything from the Birthday Party to Toga Party ticket.

Welcome to the wacky world of columnists who seek political office for fun and/or profit (with all proceeds going to charity). Along the way, their campaigns may even make some serious points.

Barry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for The Miami Herald and Tribune Media Services, is in the midst of his latest presidential run.

"I am not in this for fun. I am in this for the plane," he harrumphed, referring to Air Force One.

Barry, 52, certainly has an impressive presidential r?sum?. His Web site (http:// www.herald.com/davebarry) says he won 175 varsity letters in high school, graduated with highest honors from the College of Cardinals, invented penicillin, founded General Motors, and headed several labor unions. His religion? "Same as yours."

Campaign promises include having Air Force bombers "drop bales of money" on middle-class communities and allowing baby boomers to retire early - alphabetically, starting with the letter "B."

When E&P asked how his campaign is going, Barry replied: "I would estimate that I got somewhere around 58 million votes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Of course, the so-called 'news media' did not bother to report this. I am all for freedom of the press, but under my presidency a lot of these people will be deported."

Perhaps he'll spare people at the more than 500 papers buying his column.

If Barry is looking for a running mate, "Yankee Cowboy" J.R. Lieber may eventually be available. But right now, the alter ego of Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram columnist Dave Lieber is seeking the vice- presidential slot on the ticket of a certain "compassionate conservative."

"I'm running with George W. Bush, although he doesn't know it yet," said Lieber, 42, who threw his 10-gallon hat into the ring after hearing about Bykofsky's Philly campaigns.

If the Texas guv stumbles, J.R. may switch to John McCain's ticket under the slogan: "One was a prisoner of war. The other's a prisoner of bore." Lieber's current slogan: "At last a vice president who can spell pertatoe."

The columnist's campaign includes a call for Texans to be kinder to northerners who move to their state. "Geographical bigotry" is a big issue for J.R. Lieber, whose column occasionally subs for Dave Lieber's in print and frequently appears on the Web. Dave himself is a former New Yorker who came to Texas in 1993.

But his veep leap is really about charity. By selling campaign buttons for $2 apiece, Lieber has raised more than $1,100 since December for a "Summer Santa" program that has sent 2,400 low-income kids to camp. Lieber, who helped found the program in 1997, sells the buttons at speaking engagements and elsewhere but never to people he interviews for his column.

Lieber, also secretary/newsletter editor of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, kicked off his campaign with a no-downloading- required Web video (http://www.star telegram.com/homes/wow/lieber/video/ vault/jr_vp. …

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