OCTOBER 17, 2012
The slate of people vying for House seats is always littered with whacky, offensive, and just plain mystifying candidates. But, inevitably, some of those crackerjacks go on to actually win Congressional seats. (See: Joe Walsh, Allen West.) Below, a list of five candidates who make us smack our foreheads—but who, on January 3, 2013, could very well be esteemed members of the 113th Congress.
When Rep. Thad McCotter—the Led Zeppelin-quoting Congressman from Michigan who penned a bizarre, racially squeamish variety show pilot and once made a joke about popping a zit to a reporter—failed to qualify for reelection, he opened the door for someone even stranger to replace him. That man is candidate Kerry Bentivolio. A former teacher who allegedly told students that it was his goal to reduce them each to tears by the school year’s end, Bentivolio is now a part-time Santa Claus impersonator. He takes this role so seriously, reports the Detroit Free Press, that he’s requested permission from a National Guard air base “to fly his sleigh in its airspace on Christmas Eve.” Bentivolio has also starred in a stupendously bad satire that depicts, according to Mother Jones’s Tim Murphy, a George W. Bush-type wasting away in a feces-covered hospital bed.
Now he’s running for Congress on the Republican ticket, and he may actually win. Owing partially to the fact that his Democratic opponent, Syed Taj, is receiving no support from the national party and can be hard to understand on account of a heavy accent, Bentivolio is facing toss-up odds or better: the Cook Political Report is betting on this race to break Bentivolio’s way.
Hartzler, the freshman congresswoman from Missouri’s 4th district, is not technically a new face. But as she’s competing for a district that has been redrawn to be highly competitive, we’ll look the other way. Besides, all of Hartzler’s most “colorful” moments occurred after her 2010 election. Like her confession, at a Missouri town hall, that she has “a lot of doubts” about the validity of Obama’s birth certificate. (“I mean, if someone asked for my birth certificate, I’d get my baby book and hand it out and say ‘Here it is.’”) Or her insistence that allowing gay marriage would be the same as allowing an uncle to marry his niece, a 12-year-old to marry a 50-year old, or a letting 3-year old drive a car. (She later clarified that she meant to say, “13-year-old,” not 3-year-old. Ah.) But at least her preoccupation with fighting gay rights comes with some compassion. Recently, when confronted by a pro-gay rights student, she reassured him, saying, “You shouldn’t feel bad.” Hartzler was also one of the last to condemn Todd Akin during the “legitimate rape” backlash. Because why not?
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is favored to win in Arizona’s left-leaning 9th district. This is in spite of having led a war protest while wearing a pink tutu in her role of spokesperson for the Green Party, and saying, of women who don’t work, “These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks is some sort of feminism because they're choosing to live that life. That's bullshit. I mean, what the fuck are we really talking about here?” Good luck with that, Arizona.
California’s 8th District has its pick of two Republicans who emerged from a 13-way June primary. The first place winner in that primary, with 15.5 percent of the vote, is Gregg Imus—a local homebuilder who vows to never vote to raise the debt ceiling (since that worked out great last time). What little is known of him is not particularly encouraging: Imus co-founded the California chapter of the Minutemen, a notoriously nasty self-appointed border patrol. His preferred term for government regulators is “parasites” and, according to the LA Times, he concludes his campaign emails with the rousing words, “Victory or Death.” He has a criminal conviction for “fighting, noise, and offensive words,” and, for kicks, he seems to have a thing against stopping at red lights.
If there’s one thing the House of Representatives needs, it’s more congressmen who misunderstand female biology and the science surrounding it. Among potential freshman, Doug LaMalfa, the Republican nominee for California’s solidly red 1st District, has got that covered. Behold, his remarks from a September candidate debate: “Research has shown there is that there is that higher level of incidence [of cancer], there is that risk and so I would want women to be fully informed of all the aspects of it before they would make a decision like that. … I think that shows more care for women then by simply shuffling them off to an abortion mill and so that's a very important distinction that needs to be made.”Of course, as the Associated Press points out, both the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute reject a link between having an abortion and an increased risk of cancer. A statement from LaMalfa’s campaign later explained that LaMalfa was relying on dated information. With research chops like those, maybe he’ll wind up on the House science committee with fellow lady expert Todd Akin.
Follow me on Twitter @mtredden