Last week, an earnest group of political candidates and potential voters wore their backs out in uncomfortable folding chairs for a few hours at a storefront clinic of SW 22nd Street. The event was the South Florida Democrats' monthly debate.
A moderator asked each of the four panelists questions. One by one, three popped open canned statements on the economy, guns, health care -- other CSPAN fodder. Then there was the guy sitting at the end of the table, bouncing in his seat like a spiked tennis ball.
"No, you don't understand," the guy barked to the bewilderment of the room at one point in the evening. "I'm the Hallmark Kid. I don't let anybody tell me what to do."
"The Kid" is no stranger to New Times readers. Ryan Lipner is a publicity stuntman from Plantation whose antics have put him regularly in our pages. And now, he's asking for your vote against Rick Scott in 2014. Not only is he an actual ballot candidate, he's being taken seriously... by some.
"Because of this governor gig, I get a lot of pussy," Lipner says. "When I go out to clubs, they ask what I do and I say that I'm running for governor. It works."
Going way back to 2001, we profiled the turbocharged then-18-year-old
after he pursued his life's obsession of owning a Hallmark Card store,
only to be tossed inside a mess of lawsuits, criminal charges, and accusations of mental instability. Lipner emerged intact outside of a bipolar diagnosis.
In the intervening years, he's sued his parents for child support based on his disability and settled down with a green card bride who won't consecrate the marriage bed. Running for higher office is actually a common enough move from the Lipner playbook. He tried to wiggle onto the 2008 and 2012 presidential tickets but was disqualified for his age.
2014 will be the first cycle in which Lipner is actually old enough to participate.
"It's not a publicity stunt," Lipner says, cracking into a very publicity-stuntesque laugh. "I going to be campaigning all over the state."
Because his name was an early entry on the state's website for candidates, he's received a number of invitations to participate in panels -- including invitations from college professors to speak to students. More events will come as the election season deepens.
In other Lipner news, he's still fighting a legal ground war with his parents. Due to his mental condition, the state has appointed him a guardian ad litem, meaning he's (possibly?... hopefully?) the only candidate for higher office in the state the courts have deemed unfit to represent himself in court.
Also, despite a corporate fatwa against Lipner from ever owning a Hallmark store again, he's still got a secret share in a local store. Obviously, he's not saying which one. "I usually go at night so no one sees me, pick up my money, and hang out for a little bit," Lipner says. "I have to take in the scent of greeting cards."