What next for Thad McCotter?
Less than 24 hours after Republican Rep. Thad McCotter stunned colleagues and constituents, and upset reporters — who did not want to start working on a new story late Friday afternoon — by announcing his resignation from office, the obvious question was what will be the next event in this true-to-life political saga?
This has been, to say the least, a weird year for five-termer McCotter, who was briefly a Republican presidential candidate. After getting out of the race and announcing for re-election in Michigan’s 11th District (Wayne-Oakland Counties), McCotter was ruled off the ballot after petitions he filed fell far short of the required signatures to qualify for the August primary ballot. McCotter then declared he would run in the primary as a write-in candidate. But following reports in June that 87 per cent of the signatures his campaign filed were doctored or photocopied, the congressman announced he was retiring from office.
A more serious possibility for McCotter’s abrupt exit was offered by a Michigan GOP activist who spoke to Human Events under promise of strict anonymity. Noting that the revelations of signature fraud in McCotter’s petition’s was under investigation by authorities, the source said that “the office of our attorney general [Republican Bill Schuette] has been questioning people who were involved in his campaign. This widespread tampering with signatures on documents is serious and it could be that they told investigators Thad knew about it. If that’s true, then he might have resigned as part of a plea bargain but, Thad being Thad, he could have resigned early before the bargain was announced. We’ll know soon.”
Another Republican source in Michigan who knows McCotter (and also insisted on anonymity) offered this explanation to Human Events: “Thad doesn’t let people in on why he does things and I’d guess he may just be fed up with getting the relentless grief and is taking his toys and going home. I can’t imagine this has helped his temperament with anyone. In fact I keep thinking I would HATE to be around him right now.”
“Reindeer Man” vs. Party Bosses
Whatever the reason for McCotter’s resignation, the question five weeks before the primary is whether Gov. Rick Snyder will call a special election to fill out the remainder of the congressman’s term or simply let his seat stay vacant until the new congressman is elected in November for a full term. Most observers who spoke to us felt he would opt for the latter course, as a special primary and election would be an extra taxpayers’ expense to choose someone who would serve two months in a possible lame-duck session in November and December.
The lone Republican on the primary ballot is Kerry Bentivolio, teacher and veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm. Bentivolio, well-known for raising reindeer on his farm, was a supporter of Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy and has campaigned for Congress on abolishing the federal income tax. Obviously wanting another contender, GOP leaders in the district recruited former State Sen. Nancy Cassis to run as a write-in candidate in the primary. Although Cassis’s husband Victor has pumped $200,000 into her campaign and most party leaders are behind her, the National Republican Congressional Committee is staying out of the race.
Whoever wins the GOP standard in August should coast to Congress in the fall.
Throughout his tenure in Congress, McCotter caught the attention of reporters with his dry humor, love of cigarettes, European history, and rock music—the lyrics of which he weaved into speeches. True to form in resigning, he wrote that he will “ ‘strike another match, go start anew’ by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.”
“Strike another match, go start anew” is from Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over, Baby Blue.”