If Arizona voters aren't convinced Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or other nationally-known figures are presidential material, there's no shortage of Arizona-grown candidates to consider.
Nearly two dozen obscure candidates will appear on Arizona's Feb. 28 presidential preference ballot, including three East Valley residents.
About half the lesser-known candidates are from out of state, with the rest from across Arizona.
One thing all candidates have in common: They got on the ballot with ease.
All they had to do was fill out a two-page form with the Arizona Secretary of State, swear they met Constitutional requirements for the office and have the paperwork notarized. There was no fee to get on the ballot.
The 23 Republican candidates include Cesar Cisneros of Mesa and Wayne Arnett of Tempe, who join national figures Romney, Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Richard Grayson of Apache Junction is one of six Green Party candidates on Arizona's ballot.
Cisneros spoke earnestly about his bid for commander-in-chief. The trucking company owner and big rig driver said he's talked to thousands of people in numerous states since he began campaigning in 2010.
Cisneros, 62, is a Mormon with a wife and seven adult children who has never run for office. He is disappointed none of the other candidates have called for religion to play a greater role in public life.
"In order for us to prosper as a nation and to really be protected, we need the teachings of almighty God," Cisneros said.
Many of his views are standard for a Republican. He's for a strong national defense, low taxes and the Keystone gas pipeline. However, he wants to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants without felony records. After that, he'd seal the border.
Cisneros has never spoken to a big crowd and has only been able to get to other states because of his trucking job, he said. He's raised a few thousand dollars.
Americans of ordinary means are perhaps more qualified for the White House than wealthy candidates, he said.
"If they have these millions and billions of dollars, believe me, they're out of touch with the American people," he said. "How can they be in touch?"
He isn't included in the CNN Republican debate at the Mesa Arts Center on Feb. 22, but asked that voters call CNN to urge his inclusion. Cisneros said his desire to run comes from the heart but he acknowledges his odds of winning are slim.
"My slogan is: Miracles happen," he said.
Arnett didn't return a phone call left at his Chandler law firm.
Grayson did speak, though he said that "any publicity will probably just lose me votes."
The 60-year-old writer figures this is his fourth time on a ballot in Florida and Arizona since 1982. He first ran for a town council seat in a small Florida community.
"The people were starting to outnumber the horses, and I was mad about that," Grayson said. "My proposal was to give horses the right to vote, and I got 25 percent of the vote."
He ran for the 6th Congressional District in 2010, which is represented by Republican Jeff Flake. The Green Party sued to kick him off the ballot, but he prevailed. Just before election day, Grayson blogged that he didn't care if voters chose him. He added that most voters in the district "are ignorant morons."
Grayson said he doesn't tell people he's running, doesn't campaign and doesn't care if he gets any votes. He figures he'll get a handful of votes.
"Green Party primaries are pretty rare and Arizona, to its credit, has the easiest ballot requirements for presidential primaries," Grayson said. "For someone like me, it was irresistible. I mean, how can you just let it go by?"
Given the potential voice a presidential candidate could use, does Grayson at least have a message?
"No," he said. "I think more people should run. Or maybe Arizona should change its law or change its requirements so you have to be an actual, serious candidate."
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