Bizarre Exit

July 11, 2012

Over the weekend, Representative Thaddeus McCotter capped off a bizarre few months to end his congressional career. After almost a decade in Congress, the little-known Republican congressman from Michigan decided last year to run for president. It was an odd move that captured little attention as his campaign was snubbed by debate organizers. I saw him at a couple of campaign events in Iowa last year and it was unclear why he was running (the photo is one I took at an event). Rather than the showing charisma an underdog--or any candidate, for that matter--needs to run for the presidency, McCotter came across as an introvert who did not want to be there but had to do it because he lost a dare. As he wasted his time and campaign money on this quixotic quest, trouble started to stir in his home district. McCotter ended his presidential run last September--long before any votes were even cast--and returned to face a suddenly tough primary challenge that emerged because of his odd disconnect of running for president. In May, election officials in Michigan announced McCotter failed to make the August Republican primary ballot because he did not have enough signatures on his petition (needed only 1,000). Although his campaign turned in 2,000, only 244 were deemed valid! Many of the signatures were obviously just duplicate photocopies, which then sparked an investigation to determine who committed election fraud. Undaunted, McCotter announced he would run as a write-in candidate, but then changed his mind a few days later and said he would retire at the end of the term. As if things could not get worse, last week an upset staffer leaked a script McCotter wrote in hopes of getting a TV show. Full of sexual, racial, and other crude humor and language, the script quickly raised additional questions about McCotter. The day after the news broke about the script, McCotter announced he was immediately resigning from Congress. All of this is quite odd for any congressperson. But it is even worse for someone who was running, in part, as a "family values" Republican. In fact, I interviewed him about his time on the Family Research Council's "Values Bus" (you can see the video here). Such much for his effort to use confessional politics. His bizarre exit after the tawdry TV script it therefore quite odd.