It takes millions, maybe even $1 billion to run for president. That might explain why so far we've only seen three official candidates in the 2016 race -- Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio made it official on Monday (Apr. 13), but what about the more than 200 other people who've filed forms to run, including exactly one with the potential to tap into millennial voters with a message about saving their future from certain financial ruin?
"I've always looked at all the candidates and it's always the lesser of two evils... I've never found someone who represented what I wanted," Brian Russell, 34, told MTV News. The self-employed investment banker from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, filed to run for president in November, citing his decade-long experience in the financial world as qualifications to handle our still-fragile economy.
According to Russell, if successful, his bid would make him the youngest candidate for president in history -- an honor previously held by William Jennings Bryan, who unsuccessfully ran in 1896 at the age of 36. (Russell will turn 35 in November, meaning he'll just squeak in under the age limit to qualify.)
That puts him in a great spot, since millennials (18-33), now account for around 25 percent of the voting-age population, surpassing the number of seniors who are eligible to vote.
But let's not dance around it: Russell knowns his chances are super-slim. "Since I'm still young, I know there are many, many elections down the road, so it's not the end of the world [if I don't win]," he said, getting up to shut his home office window to block out the sounds of a lawnmower trimming the grass on the golf course he looks out on all day. "And my odds get slimmer every day, but I hope that I might influence someone's opinions."
He definitely doesn't have $1 billion, or even $1 million to spend, describing his funds as "very limited at this point." But he's hoping voters will find him on Facebook and help push his Likes into the triple digits (he's at 70 right now), and maybe open their wallets as a result.
He's Been There And He Knows What It's Like To Be Drowning In Debt
Russell, who is just barely outside the millennial cut-off, definitely sounds like he has the hustle for the job. He said he gets up at 4 a.m. every morning to work out, then grinds it out all day at work before hitting the beach around 5 to get surf on his longboard. And he thinks young voters might just see a bit of themselves in him.
"We’re not seeing an economy strong enough to provide young people with the same opportunities as past generations," he said, citing high youth unemployment and student debt as issues he thinks are at the top of young voters' minds. He blames what he calls the government's increasing involvement in the private sector and his fears that the Affordable Care Act and a push for an increased minimum wage are impacting hiring.
He doesn't yet have a strong catchphrase like "Stand With Rand" or "Hope," but Russell definitely knows his stuff when it comes to the economy.
"We need a more free-market approach – not a government-centric approach ... Lower taxes, reduce government spending, keep a stable currency," he said, admitting he can sometimes get a bit long-winded when it comes to his vision for the future. "History has proven this to be successful in raising the standard of living of all people, not just certain groups. It will be especially beneficial to young people who are in the early stages of their life and trying to get on their feet. This is what I plan to do."
His profile might appeal, but Brian is going to have to convince some of his peers that his way is the right one based on a 2014 survey that found a strong majority of 18-33 year-olds favoring more government involvement (not less) on issues such as making college more affordable, creating jobs and fixing the economy.
He May Not Win, But He's Got A Better Chance Than Hrm Caesar St Augustine De Buonaparte
Amid such giggle-inducing potential candidates as James "Titus the Great" Law, perennial contender President Emperor Caesar and obvious joke candidate Sydneys Voluptuous Buttocks, Russell seems more serious than most fringe contenders. And, as of now, the only one who looks and sounds like someone young voters can relate to.
"I think young people will understand [my ideas]," he said. "I have been in their shoes. I know what it’s like to pay massive student loans. To be the low man on the totem pole. To start a business from scratch... Frankly, I think most people can relate to that, which I think is an advantage when running against career politicians."