UPDATE: On Sept. 10, a Richmond Circuit Court judge ordered the city registrar to put Ryan on the ballot. He'll be up against Mayor Dwight C. Jones in the Nov. 6 election.
Michael K. Ryan Jr. really wants to run for mayor.
Why else would he have spent the last three months wrangling with city registrar J. Kirk Showalter and knocking on doors, trying to prove he's collected the 500 legitimate voters' signatures he needs to be placed on the ballot?
The registrar announced Monday her decision that Ryan would not make the ballot because, according to Ryan, he was "supposedly eight signatures short." He and attorneys Paul Goldman and Joe Morrissey, who have been helping Ryan's efforts, planned to go back to court to get those signatures recognized.
Ryan's campaign has been on hold since June. He's raised no money because he's been unable to accept contributions until he's on the ballot. Although Goldman and Morrissey haven't charged him, Ryan estimates he's spent more than "a couple thousand dollars" on his efforts.
Whether or not his campaign is successful, Ryan says, he hopes it may spark a change in policy, "so future candidates won't have to do the same thing that we've done."
Style: How have you been contacting these voters whose signatures were at issue?
Ryan: Oh my gosh. I started 7:30 in the morning and banging on doors. Because you know, when they sign, they don't give you their phone number, they just give you their name and address. We'd be banging on doors [at] 10 o'clock at night. … "Hey, sorry to bother you, here's why I'm here. I know it's early, I know it's late, I'm sorry you're in the shower … but you may be the person who gets us on the ballot."
If in the end, these signatures are recognized, what do you think this whole thing means for your campaign?
On the plus side, it's been a lot of free publicity. But I think more importantly … if there were a bunch of people running for the position of mayor, it really would have been another little side story. I think more people, in talking to them, are upset that no one else is running. And they're sitting there going: "Wait a minute, how did this happen? And why is there no one else on the ballot?"
What have you had to put on hold while all this has been going on?
If I don't get on the ballot, I think my family, my friends and a lot of clients will not be disappointed. … I don't get home till 10 o'clock at night. And they've been real understanding about it. The dogs don't recognize me when I come home. They think I'm an intruder. They're like: "Who is this guy? The mortgage is due on the first."
This whole experience — has it put you off politics and campaigning?
I didn't realize I was signing up for this [laughs].