CARSON CITY — Independent American Tim Fasano and independent Helmut Lehmann wear broad smiles these days because of voters’ dissatisfaction with Congress and President Barack Obama.
As long as voters are unhappy with Republicans and Democrats, the two candidates believe they will pick up an unexpected number of votes Sept. 13 in the special election for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
Barring a miracle, neither candidate will come close to beating Democrat Kate Marshall or Republican Mark Amodei, but for now at least they can fantasize about having a chance.
They say the decline in the economy and people’s dissatisfaction with politicians induced them to run as alternatives to the major party candidates.
"People have woken up," said Fasano, who received less than a half percent of the vote as his party’s candidate in the U.S. Senate race won by Harry Reid.
"The common thread we run into is people are sick and tired of what is going on. Many are blaming both the Republican and Democratic parties for getting us into the mess we are in."
"I think if people realize how much their quality of life has suffered since 2008 (when Obama was elected), then they should be really afraid of the Republican and Democratic parties," added Lehmann, a first-time candidate who collected 184 signatures to secure a spot on the ballot. "What’s happened is disgusting. That’s why I am running."
Both are making tours around the 105,000-square-mile district that includes all of Nevada except the Las Vegas metropolitan area. But neither has raised even the minimum $6,000 in contributions that would require him to file campaign reports with the Federal Election Commission.
"Money determines who wins and loses," Lehman said, admitting he is a long shot in the race because he has little money.
Lehmann and Fasano cannot afford advertisements, but they fought to be included in two of the three debates and attend civil organization meetings for a chance to make their positions known.
Lehmann, 55, this month published "Losing America: How Self-Serving Leaders Are Destroying Our Future." The book describes how he believes greedy corporations and politicians are ruining America. It will be available on amazon.com after Sept. 10, he said.
For most of his working career, Lehmann, of Reno, said he worked in business management, successfully turning around three unprofitable companies.
Since most businesses and individuals now pay no income taxes, Lehman supports a flat tax of 17 percent, including the 6.2 percent Social Security tax paid by individuals.
He said corporations paid $191 billion in income taxes in 2009 and his plan would increase that to $520 billion.
Lehmann added that 95 percent of companies and individuals who now pay taxes would pay less under his flat tax plan.
What happens now is American companies invest their profits overseas, while paying taxes at the lowest rates since the 1950s, he said.
Fasano, 51, of Fernley, supports a 9.7 percent flat tax, and imposing higher taxes on companies that hire workers overseas, rather than in the United States.
"American companies that employ Americans should be given a tax break," the retired aerospace contractor said.
He has been a regular candidate for the Independent American Party, which advocates limited government and returning government to constitutional principles.
"American companies that hire veterans should be given a tax break," he said.
But Fasano isn’t confident Congress will do the right things to turn around the economy when it returns this fall.
"I think we are going into a lot worse recession," he said. "The elitists in the Republican and Democratic parties, while at the helm of our ship of state, either blindly or deliberately steered her into dangerous and uncharted waters."
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.