Recently, clown panic has taken the United States by storm, fueling both unnecessary fear and fascination nationwide. Now, police say, these clowns are running for president.

The frenzy began in July, when reports emerged of creepy clowns in Cleveland, OH and Philadelphia trying to scare or coerce citizens into voting for them on November 8. Since then, scary clown sightings have been reported in more than three dozen states from Florida to Colorado. They have dominated TV news cycles and even made it to the White House, as White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest assured Americans that “law enforcement is taking the clowns quite seriously.”

Experts agree that the widespread fear comes mainly from the fact that the clowns wear heavy makeup, hiding their true identity and feelings. “The fascination with these clowns is really the fact that they’re not real,” said Mark Flanigan, professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska. “We don’t know what’s beneath that makeup. It could be anyone or anything.”

The menacing clowns have also incited fear in the public by threatening and degrading women, promoting racism and xenophobia and deleting emails.

Still, there are many benevolent, harmless clowns angered by the dangerous behavior of the “evil clowns.” “It bothers me that these fools are giving clowns such a bad reputation, while I’ve worked my entire life to amuse people, to make people laugh,” said Albuquerque, NM resident Gary Johnson, who works part–time portraying a clown in local circuses and is known locally for his hysterical “Aleppo moment” routine. “Please, vote for me on November 8.”