"Mr. Dirt," a U.S. presidential candidate, feels down in the dumps because he didn't collect enough signatures to appear on the Utah ballot. He blames the Salt Lake City-County Landfill, which wouldn't let him collect names there.
"I'm not the kind of guy who fits in the normal political arena. I'm the kind of guy you would find in a dump," said Dirt, a somewhat unkempt "Mr. Clean" lookalike who also goes by the name of Robert Earl Anderson of Magna.He figures he could have easily gathered the 300 signatures needed to appear on the ballot if he could have sought them at the dump, where he thinks people would be more likely to listen to his recycling and environmental concerns.
But the county wanted Dirt out of the dump, where it worried he could create safety problems amid the moving machinery. County attorneys also said the landfill is not a normal "public forum" where political activities normally occur and where government must allow petitions to circulate.
Dirt has since considered suing the county, which he points out has allowed others to pass petitions in other county-owned facilities, such as the Salt Palace and County Government Center.
But as the filing deadline neared, Dirt figured he better collect signatures somewhere where he was welcome. So Dirt went to the University of Utah.
"I worked there for two days - which was hard because I have to work for a living. But I finally collected 360 signatures - 60 more than I needed - so I figured I had it made," Dirt said.
However, the lieutenant governor's office notified him that only 146 of those signatures came from registered voters - so there will be no Dirt on the Utah ballot this fall.
"The students must have been mistaken about whether they were registered or they lied to me. I asked each one whether they were a registered voter. I didn't let anyone sign who said they weren't registered," Dirt said.
But he doesn't blame the students so much for his problems as he still blames Salt Lake County officials. "They robbed me of my nature and took me out of my environment."
He adds that he is still trying to get the American Civil Liberties Union to help him sue Salt Lake County for denying him access to the dump, and is also considering a suit challenging the state's disqualification of so many signatures on his petitions.
"If I thought I could get publicity for my cause by suing the state for disqualifying the signatures, I would do it," he said.
Still, Dirt points out, his candidacy was not totally thrown into the scrap heap when he failed to collect the signatures needed to appear on the ballot. "I can still run as a write-in candidate, and that's what I'm going to do."
He doesn't need any signatures on petitions for that. He just needs to file a notice of intent with the lieutenant governor's office, which he said he will do soon.