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Westerville teacher running for president. Yes, seriously.

Ben Hartnell wears his patriotic wardrobe campaigning in Westerville. (WSYX /WTTE)
Ben Hartnell wears his patriotic wardrobe campaigning in Westerville. (WSYX /WTTE)
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A Westerville North High School history teacher is betting his beard can help him make history.

Ben Hartnell, 38, has been certified by the Ohio Secretary of State's Office as an official write-in candidate for president. And he's official in 22 other states as well, he said.

"I just really want to shake things up," Hartnell said.

He's not a conventional candidate. His signs promote the slogan: "Lower Taxes. More Beard." His official campaign wardrobe consists of an American-flag style robe, a glittered cowboy hat, and some "America" sunglasses.

"'Macho Man' Randy Savage was my all-time favorite wrestler growing up," Hartnell explained. "So, we found a way to turn that into Uncle "Macho Man" Sam, I guess you could say."

He regularly uses elaborately historic costumes as part of his classroom presentations. Hartnell first ran an unofficial campaign in 2012 as way to sell t-shirts for charity and to teach his students about the electoral process.

"They said, 'You know, what? We actually learned quite a bit from the little gimmick campaign you ran. You should really consider running again," Hartnell explained.

His running mate is his cousin, Dave Marshall, who lives in Michigan.

Their campaign website features public polls on a variety issues, and Hartnell said the results largely will determine his platform, as well as foster classroom discussions.

His six-year-old Fraser Hartnell already had a pitch about why his dad should be president. "He's going to pick good choices, and he's not afraid of the dark," Fraser said.

While Hartnell is getting some voter support, he said the real victory has been teaching his students about political possibilities and the challenges of a campaign.

"If down the road my students become politically active because of the campaign, then it's a huge success," he said.

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According to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, there are a total of 18 write-in candidates for president in the November 8th election, which is the most ever recorded.

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