Bentivolio, Cassis vie for Michigan 11 House seat

If Nancy Cassis was on the ballot in the Republican primary Tuesday, few doubt that the former state senator and state representative would handily be nominated for Congress in Michigan???s 11th District (Wayne-Oakland Counties).

But, because of a string of bizarre happenings involving flawed petitions for renomination, embattled GOP Rep. Thad McCotter announced his decision to retire June 2 — after the state???s filing deadline. Accordingly, the 68-year-old Cassis — the choice of local party leaders — could only run as a write-in candidate. The lone candidate on the ballot was Kerry Bentivolio, area leader for Ron Paul???s presidential campaign and a U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm.

Cassis has spent a six-figure amount from her personal income and emphasized her background as a fiscal conservative during the campaign. But this doesn???t change the fact that writing in a candidate???s name on the Water Wonderland ballot and having it count is not as easy as it sounds. Although ???intent??? rather than precise spelling is how election officials determine the vote, the voter must also shade in an oval space on the ballot after he or she writes in a name in order to have it count.

Initially thought to be a gadfly, Bentivolio developed potential as a serious contender the day after McCotter exited the race. Veteran political consultant John Yob has signed on as his campaign quarterback and the ???Liberty for All??? SuperPAC, headed by Texas multimillionaire and Ron Paul enthusiast John Ramsey, has weighed in strongly with mailings and TV spots on behalf of Bentivolio.

A mass mailing of postcards by the SuperPAC takes past votes in the legislature by Cassis and links ???Nancy Cassis to Nancy Pelosi.???

???Based on who is supporting her and her recognition from past races and service, Nancy should win,??? said one Oakland County GOP activist. ???But having to win through write-ins is difficult for anyone. And besides, (Bentivolio) is running on a platform to abolish the income tax and the IMF and get out of the UN and the IMF. That resonates with a lot of folks.???

No one is calling this race for sure. And no one argues that, even with a heated Senate primary and a Democratic primary battle for the seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Dale Kildee in the Flint-Bay City district, the race in Michigan???s 11th is the strangest of all.