Sen. Greenleaf to seek a national stage with presidential ballot spot

Posted: November 01, 2011

Republican State Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf announced Monday that he would join the ranks of Romney, Perry, Cain and Santorum on New Hampshire's presidential primary ballot.

But make no mistake, he said, he is not running for president.

Instead, the Montgomery County legislator hopes to use the national spotlight to stimulate debate on "skyrocketing debt," "reckless spending," and his plan to return the nation "to the path of prosperity and progress."

"My family . . . we have a wonderful life and quiet, cheery home," he said. "My goal isn't about moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. My goal is to enter ideas into the great debate."

Greenleaf, a 72-year-old Huntingdon Valley lawyer, added his name Friday, the filing deadline, to those of the 30 Republicans and 14 Democrats vying for votes in the first election on next year's presidential primary calendar. And while he has no plans to campaign in the state and has not raised a dime, he said, he feels confident his voice will be heard.

But amid an already crowded field of Republican front-runners - not to mention a list of also-rans that includes an unemployed computer technician from Oregon, a Texas building contractor with tort reform in his sights, and a performing artist from Massachusetts perhaps best known for wearing a boot on his head - can an eight-term state senator from the suburbs of Philadelphia even make a splash?

Maybe not. Even his closest political allies at home seemed shocked by his candidacy.

"He what?" said Robert Kerns, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee.

New Hampshire's January primary tends to attract oddball candidates. Contenders need only fill out a one-page form and pay a $1,000 filing fee to get their names on the ballot.

This year's Republican crop is no different. It includes Edward O'Donnell, a Wilmington nonprofit manager whose candidate literature boasts his Little League batting average (.561) amid pledges to take on societal scourges such as litter and meanness.

There is also perennial candidate Vermin Supreme, the performance artist from Boston, who showed up this year to file his paperwork sporting a green tiger-stripe shirt, black leather cap shaped like a boot, and a full-on Grizzly Adams beard. He says that if elected, he'll push for a law mandating teeth-brushing for all.

Greenleaf would like to think he falls somewhere between those contenders and his competition at the top of the pack.

In a statement Monday, he outlined a slightly more serious platform: Pay off the national debt. Use tariffs to improve the competitiveness of American-made goods. Peg the dollar to the nation's physical assets, such as government land.

But he said his fleeting candidacy should not be viewed as a criticism of any of the others in the race.

"They're fine people," he said. "I'm just trying to discuss the issues wherever I can. I'm just looking for opportunities."

This isn't the first time Greenleaf has pushed himself into a broader spotlight. In 2000, he lost a congressional race to then-U.S. Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel III. Since then, he has bided his time in Harrisburg serving as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and amassing a campaign war chest of just over $181,000, according to his latest campaign finance filings.

It may not be Mitt Romney money, but surely it puts him ahead of the likes of O'Donnell and Supreme.


Contact staff writer Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @inqmontco on Twitter. Read his blog, "MontCo Memo," at www.philly.com/montcomemo

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