ROCKPORT — Rockport's Vermin Supreme did not come close to winning the New Hampshire Democratic primary.
But he did manage to gather 831 votes, enough to finish in third place, and making him the second runnerup to President Obama — rarefied air compared to the fringe candidate's last showing.
Supreme, an Edmunds Lane resident, is a performance artist who runs for office as part of his art — and finds an open door in New Hampshire, where anyone who can rustle up $1,000 can get a spot on the primary ballot.
In 2008, he ran as a Republican and garnered 42 votes. On the surface, that means his Tuesday total marked a roughly 2,000 percent gain — a clear sign of what political consultants would call momentum.
Yet there were no signs of excitement Wednesday round his Rockport home, and the candidate himself could not be reached or found.
Supreme's Edmunds Lane home is nondescript and difficult to find, resting on a tiny street in Pigeon Cove that looks more like a driveway and has no visible street sign. No one answered the door when the bell was rung Wednesday.
Rockport records show that Supreme — that's his real name, according to the town voting rolls — cast a ballot locally in the 2010 statewide election, but has not taken part in annual Town Meetings since that time and has never run for office in town.
On the New Hampshire campaign trail, Supreme's platform ranged from instituting a mandatory tooth-brushing law, to improving preparedness for a zombie attack, to giving every American a pony.
One position that is sincere beyond his performance art, however, is his support of organ donation.
Supreme often shows off his scar from the surgery he underwent to donate a kidney to his mother, and asks his supporters to get tested to see if they would be matches for those waiting for transplants.
Over the last several days, however, Supreme also made the leap from being just one of many New Hampshire fringe candidates to one with at least some name recognition in the national press.
How did he do it? Partly, by showing up at events of major Republican candidates and stealing their audiences and the press that came to hear them speak.
National press, including Slate.com's David Weigel, noted running into Supreme outside of events for Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. And Supreme's name has turned up in dispatches from the primaries for Gawker, Salon and the New York Times, along with an Associated Press report on fringe candidates.
Though President Obama won the New Hampshire Democratic primary with 82 percent of the vote, other candidates took 18 percent, with 2 percent going to second-place finisher Edward Cowen, a Vermont resident who took in 938 votes.
Cowen campaigned on ending the production of nuclear weapons, reducing what he called "excessive" population growth and caring for the environment.
Stephanie Bergman can contacted at 978-283-7000 x3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org