Lorry Roy of Goffstown, N.H., leaves a voting booth at Goffstown High School. (T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty…)
Reporting from Goffstown, N.H. — When all the counting is done tonight in New Hampshire, Keith Drummond may end up with only a few dozen votes in the Republican primary. But winning votes has long since faded as the main goal of the Houston-area businessman, one of the record 30 Republican candidates on the New Hampshire ballot today, and certainly one of the least-known.
Drummond decided to run for the presidency only a few months ago, motivated by the nation's growing debt crisis. He then went to New Hampshire, a state whose requirements to land on the ballot are among the easiest nationwide. From there, he hoped to return to the Granite State to campaign after he qualified for the ballots in other early states.
But soon reality set in.
"My intent was to come in here and then go full bore to as many states as I could," Drummond said as he observed voting at a polling place in Goffstown. "There's a message, and I want to get that message out. But as I realized I wasn't going to get on ballots I knew this turned into a learning experience."
Drummond isn't alone in struggling to gain a spot on the ballot in states across the country this year. This week Jon Huntsman failed to qualify for the Arizona primary ballot. Only two candidates -- Mitt Romney and Ron Paul -- will appear on the Virginia primary ballot in March, pending a legal challenge.
And so Drummond, whose member of Congress is Ron Paul and governor is Rick Perry, considers his candidacy now an opportunity to gauge whether he can ever muster the resources to run a national campaign in four years.
"Can a nobody -- not in three months -- but can a nobody with four years ahead of them literally go out and raise the kind of support that it takes to compete at this level," he wondered. Herman Cain, after all, was no different. Just "a little older, a little more experienced, a little more money in his pocket."
He was heartened by the experience he had in New Hampshire, brief as it was. This morning, he visited some polling locations in Concord.
At one, he struck up a conversation with one voter about baseball. Moments later, the man returned to tell Drummond he had voted for him.
Later, the Army veteran learned it was a quiet gesture -- holding the door open for an elderly voter -- that had earned him another vote.
Drummond later spent the afternoon riding along with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner as he visited polling locations in Goffstown and Bedford, learning about the first in the nation primary process from the man who was overseeing his ninth.
With 70% of the vote counted, Drummond had 22 total votes -- better than 12 of his rivals. And, just a thousand fewer than Perry.