Not the Donald or Hillary: Exploring ‘The Can’t-idates’

By Brian Soergel | May 07, 2016
Craig Tomashoff

Pundits say Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have zero chance at becoming our next president.

You can add Harley Brown to that list, says Craig Tomashoff, a veteran television producer and journalist who has written a book called “The Can’t-idates: Running for President When Nobody Knows Your Name.”

Tomashoff will read from the book and sign copies Saturday, May 7, at University Book Store in Mill Creek.

Harley Brown, by the way, is a member of the Hell’s Angels in Idaho whose job it was to inform military families that their loved ones had died. After that, he understandably struggled to get through the ensuing depression.

Then God appeared to him and told him he’d one day be president.

“I've always been fascinated with the idea that we all grow up being told someday we can be president. But that's like telling a kid to believe in Santa,” Tomashoff said. “It's a lie parents tell just to keep their kids in line. We know that hardly any of us could ever grow up to be president because of how the system now works. And yet, even as we speak, there are more than 1,600 people who have filed the paperwork to run for commander in chief.”

Tomashoff said he wanted to unearth what motivated people to wake up one day and decide to do something that the rest of us think is, probably, a bit crazy. It could cost them friends, family and their savings. They will never succeed.

So what makes these "can't-idates" give it a shot?

To find out, Tomashoff took off on a 10,000-mile, three-week road trip to meet the subjects of his book. He dedicated it to his son, who recently graduated from high school.

“I couldn't afford a car as a gift, but I wanted to give him something important as he went off to college. And that was the gift of believing in his own impossible dream, whatever it is. The subjects of my book were doing something people told them they can't do. I was writing a book, something I always wanted to do, but a task that seemed too impossible. I hoped out of all this, it would inspire my boy to dream big.”

Dreaming big is something Tomashoff certainly knows something about.

He is a local kid who graduated from Shoreline High School whose parents and brother live in the Mill Creek area.

While at the University of Washington, Tomashoff interned at the Enterprise, a now-defunct weekly newspaper that served south Snohomish County and northern King County. He soon was editing the Shoreline and Northgate editions of the paper.

Tomashoff now lives in Southern California, where he blogs regularly at the Huffington Post and was most recently a producer on “The Queen Latifah Show.” He was executive editor at TV Guide and associate bureau chief at People magazine.

In addition, he’s written for the Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Emmy magazine. He’s also the author of “You Live, You Learn: The Alanis Morissette Story,” a project that sprung from his time working as a producer on VH-1’s Behind the Music.

Who will he vote for in November?

“Privileged information, I'm afraid. I will say there are a few people in my book who make more sense and have better plans than most of the big-name, cable news-ready candidates we all hear about.”


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