By Joe Tash
The newest candidate for president of the United States has never run for office before, is not affiliated with any political party and does not plan to spend money on lawn signs, bumper stickers or negative campaign ads.
Meet T.J. (Terry) O’Hara of Rancho Santa Fe, who wants your vote for president in the November 2012 election.
O’Hara, 59, spent 30 years in the business world, working as a CEO and corporate turnaround specialist. He and his wife, Kimberly, live with their three dogs at the Morgan Run Club and Resort. From his home office, O’Hara spends his days reading voraciously and writing about national affairs, and he said he’s concluded that the U.S. political system is broken.
Politicians, he said, “have become so distracted by the political process and winning that they aren’t performing their essential function… serving the people.”
The two major parties will spend some $1.5 billion on the 2012 presidential race between them, O’Hara said, a sum that could support 33,000 average American households for a year, or provide unemployment benefits for 98,000 people.
“The system has gotten out of control,” he said. “What we need, I think, is an independent voice to come out and put the facts on the table.”
In his first media interview after announcing his candidacy on Nov. 30, O’Hara said, “We’re going to try to create a viral campaign (using) the Internet and social networking. I refer to it as relying on the First Amendment.”
He plans to accept campaign contributions of no more than $100 from citizens only, rather than from organizations such as political action committees, and will hold himself to a $100 contribution, he said.
O’Hara does not identify with any specific party platform. Some of his ideas, such as a contention that the federal government has expanded beyond its Constitutional mandate, would probably sit well with such groups as the Tea Party. But his other positions on hot-button issues might run counter to those of social conservatives.
For example, O’Hara said that while he supports comprehensive immigration reform, it would be “irrational” to suggest that all illegal immigrants in the U.S. be deported. Instead, he supports a path to citizenship for those who want and deserve it, and a path to deportation for those who don’t.
“I’m perplexed by some of the candidates in some debates who suggested they will build the equivalent of the Great Wall of China across our southern border,” he said.
Rather, he said, electronic surveillance and military deployments could be used to secure U.S. borders.
He opposes criminalization of abortion in favor of education programs. “I grew up when abortion was illegal and people still made that choice and people died because of it. By criminalizing the choice, we didn’t stop the behavior.”
And on the issue of job creation, he supports providing unused federal buildings rent-free to entrepreneurs, charities and trade schools as one way of supporting economic growth and government services without adding to the nation’s tax burden.
He suggested a 10 percent tax cut for businesses that expand their workforce by 10 percent, and supports an overhaul of the tax code.
O’Hara has written three books: “The Left Isn’t Right,” “The Right is Wrong” and “The National Platform of Common Sense.” He also writes for the Washington Times Communities and a blog. (His website can be found at
According to his bio, O’Hara grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, the grandson of immigrants from Italy and Ireland. His mother was a Democrat who worked as a comptroller for the telephone company and a homemaker, and his father was a Republican who worked in the newspaper industry and as a painting contractor.
O’Hara completed undergraduate studies and a law degree at the University of Cincinnati, and worked in business for most of his career. Since 2008, he has been a strategic consultant, political author, columnist and media personality, according to his bio.
As for his campaign, O’Hara said he is working on getting his name on state ballots, and launching a grass-roots effort in which people will share his website and message with their neighbors, co-workers and friends.
“If we get traction, the media will pay attention. As that builds, I think we become quote, unquote, newsworthy.”
“I actually like my chances if we have the ability to have fair representation,” he said.