FROSTBURG — If you are driving through the LaVale Walmart parking lot one morning, you may just see a presidential candidate making his latest campaign video from the cab of his Ford F250 Super Duty pickup.
“Where do I do my campaigning? Wherever I can ... mostly from my pickup truck,” Frostburg resident Albert Raley said.
Raley made a decision in November to throw his hat in the ring. Since then, his name has been added as a write-in selection to election ballots in 43 states.
“Of the 50 states, 43 allow write-ins,” Raley said. “There are seven states that don’t take write-in candidates. I think that is so unfair.”
Raley said he became an approved write-in selection by calling each state’s board of elections and submitting required paperwork.
“I knew I wasn’t going to do just Maryland, that would be just spitting in the wind,” he said. “You got to do the whole thing. That’s what I did. It has been time consuming. But I have four more (territories) to go: Washington, D.C., Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.”
Raley is running as an Independent under the slogan “Overhaul America.” He dropped by the offices of the Times-News for a recent interview, and is utilizing social media, primarily Facebook, to get the word out. He posts the videos he produces in his truck on his Facebook page.
Raley is a 1972 graduate of Beall High School. He has four children and 11 grandchildren. Retired, he currently teaches driver education part time at Allegany Driving School.
“I’m going to clean house,” Raley said. “With this bickering back and forth, I don’t know that the country is any more divided than it is right now.”
Raley favors doing away with the two major political parties.
“I think the two-party system is awful. If I’m president, the two-party system would be gone,” Raley said. “You know George Washington didn’t even want parties. In 1819 we were reduced to one. In 1860, when the South seceded, they didn’t have any.”
He would also get rid of the electoral college.
“The Constitution, that is our foundation, but I want to tell you it needs brought up to the 21st century,” Raley said. “Keep the good basic stuff, but it needs revised.”
Raley also favors bringing religion back into U.S. government and greatly reducing the number of members of Congress.
He was asked how the idea of running for president got started.
“From the time I was young I had this feeling I was special and I was going to do something important,” he said. “I’m a problem solver. I’m a visionary and I’m intelligent. But I always hated politics and I’ve never voted in my life until now. I just registered to vote. But the date it all started was on Nov. 21.”
Raley, and his vice president candidate George R. Jones, also of Frostburg, meet at McDonald’s in Walmart just about every day. While having coffee and discussing the country’s problems, Raley popped the question.
“We were sitting there talking and I said, ‘George I’m going to run for president. Do you want to be my vice president and he said, 'Well, sure Al.’ Can you solve all the world’s problems? We are really trying.”
He is running with zero dollars. “That way I don’t have to file with the Federal Election Commission,” he said. Campaigns with less than $5,000 are not required to register with the FEC.
“I’m outside the box. People think I’m radical,” Raley said. “I just want to help. It scares me that I might be at the White House some day, but I think my chances are slim. No write-in candidate has ever done it.”
Publicity has been slow going for Raley, but not from lack of effort.
“I looked up the largest newspapers from the 50 states. I started calling them. I’ve only done two or three so far but working on them ... the Washington Post, Tampa Bay Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, L.A. Times. Some of them might let me put my entire story in.
“I also contacted ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, Dr. Phil and Ellen DeGeneres. I’ve contacted Ross Perot Jr. (son of 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot) to get his advice. His father ran as a third party candidate.”
Raley believes President Donald Trump is doing a good job.
“I don’t know whether to run against him or give him advice,” Raley said. “I think the president is doing a very nice job but I think I can do more. The president has the power but they don’t use it the way they should. He has more power but I think he is afraid to use it.”
Raley thinks the budget should be balanced and the debt wiped clean.
“I don’t know how we got into this,” he said. “We are living beyond our means. We owe countries and they owe us. Get rid of the waste and balance the budget and then wipe that deficit out ... default or bankruptcy. The numbers are so huge they don’t have meaning anymore.”
Raley said he will be fine if he is not elected.
“If this works I can really help,” he said. “Common sense and intelligence can do the job. Common sense is not common anymore. If it doesn’t work, I’ll still be comfortable. I just want to help the country.”
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.