Hours after the late-night announcement Saturday by Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) that he will end his write-in bid for renomination and retire from Congress, Republicans from Lansing to Washington began focusing on Michigan’s 11th District and what comes next.
By just about all early reports, the answer is pure chaos.
Six-term Congressman McCotter, who briefly ran for the GOP presidential nomination before deciding to seek re-election, suffered considerable embarrassment two weeks ago when election officials decided his campaign had only filed 244 acceptable signatures on petitions out of the 1000 required to appear on the August primary ballot. As McCotter announced he would try to win the Republican primary as a write-in candidate, the embattled lawmaker’s problems were compounded by the announcement that the state attorney general was investigating possible fraud in the collection of signatures for his petitions.
His abrupt reversal leaves Kerry Bentivolo, Vietnam War veteran and teacher, as the lone candidate on the Republican ballot in the 11th District (Wayne and Oakland Counties). Bentivolo, who also raises reindeer, is a Ron Paul supporter who wants to abolish the federal income tax.
But GOP leaders are likely to search for another candidate who, under state election law, would have to win nomination through write-ins or stickers placed on the ballot (which, contrary to several published reports, are legal in Michigan). Former State Sen. Loren Bennett announced yesterday he is running, and that he has 100 volunteers to help him.
One source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Human Events that former state legislator and stalwart conservative Rocky Raczkowski, who narrowly lost a race against Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, was seriously exploring a write-in bid in the 11th. Raczkowski, whose Oakland County home is now in the 11th, was a co-chairman of McCotter’s campaign this year.
Another Oakland County GOPer who is also reportedly considering becoming a write-in candidate, the same source said, is conservative State Sen. Mike Kowall. Earlier this year, Kowall became a candidate in the 11th District after McCotter declared for president. When McCotter decided to run for re-election, Kowall remained in the race and pointed out that he disagreed with the congressman on his stances in favor of Davis-Bacon legislation and organized labor’s cherished “card check??? proposal. But Kowall eventually deferred to McCotter.
Still another GOP prospect is attorney David Trott, who reportedly came close to challenging McCotter this year. Trott is considered likely to use his own vast wealth if he chooses to run.
So no one really knows what will happen in the Republican primary August 11. For his part, McCotter will be remembered by those who reported on him for his love of history and the works of thinkers such as Russell Kirk, his unapologetic chain-smoking and passion for rock music. Simply put, he was a true American original in Congress.