Thursday, August 09, 2012

In The MI-11 Primary Democrats Picked Their Sane Candidate, Republicans Went For The Lunatic Fringe


Tuesday night was disappointing for progressives who worked their hearts out on Darcy Burner's campaign in Washington and on Trevor Thomas' campaign in central Michigan. But at the same time wealthy, self-funding conservative Democrats were beating progressives in WA-01 and MI-03, an entirely different dynamic was playing out in eastern Michigan, where a progressive physician, Dr. Syed Taj is running for the 11th congressional district seat Thaddeus McCotter was forced to resign from amid another Republican electoral scandal. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) described the four McCotter staffers as "not simply Keystone Kops running amok... criminal acts were committed." There's "no evidence" that McCotter was directing the operation so, at least for now, they're letting him off with just the resignation from Congress.

To avoid a trial and a certain prison term, McCotter first announced he would retire and then just plain, resigned. Indian-American Syed Taj was already challenging him, as were a LaRouche activist seeking to get some publicity for his faction's "impeach Obama" agenda and an extreme right crackpot, Kerry Bentivolio, who had declared he would take McCotter on in the GOP primary. Once McCotter resigned, the Michigan-- and national-- GOP was horrified to find themselves stuck with a stark raving mad lunatic as a candidate. So they drafted former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, got a bunch of Republican Establishment folks to campaign for her-- as well as Rick Santorum's mighty twitter operation-- and ran her as a write-in candidate and the "approved" Republican.

But while MI-11 Democrats chose the sane candidate in their primary Tuesday-- Dr. Taj beating the LaRouche freak 59-41%-- the Republican primary voters doubled down on the crazy. Bentivolio, took 42,771 (66%) while Cassis and the rest of the write-in candidates wound up with a flaccid 22,490 votes (34%). Bentivolio is a Ron Paul and Ayn Rand devotee, as well as a reindeer rancher. He made some extra money as an actor in a low-budget conspiracy film that blamed George W. Bush for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Republicans love crazy conspiracy scandals-- even when their own figures are targeted!

When Dr. Taj first declared his candidacy, no one thought McCotter was going anywhere but back to Congress. That's entirely changed now and a district that Obama won in 2008 is absolutely in play. Next week, we'll be talking with Dr, Taj live at Crooks and Liars (Tuesday at 2pm, ET). Meanwhile, please read his ideas for fixing the Affordable Care Act and please consider contributing to his campaign here at our ActBlue page. The DCCC flack who fashioned coverage of the DCCC's lame Red-to-Blue picks for The Hill this morning noted that Steve Israel hasn't given the thumbs up on Dr. Taj's race yet. (What they don't mention, since the reporters are ignorant and lazy, is that Israel's own model for picking candidates is less about "the rule" and more about the exception and that the DCCC routinely violates its own stated criterian all the time.)
Notably missing from the list, however, is Democratic candidate Syed Taj, running against newly minted Republican opponent Kerry Bentivolio for Thad McCotter’s old seat, in Michigan’s 11th district. Bentivolio’s Tea Party credentials concern Michigan Republicans, as Obama managed to win 50 percent of the vote there in 2008, indicating it could be competitive this year. But DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said that they’re still watching the district to see how the race will develop in the coming weeks.

“The Republican failure to get a credible nominee has made it an opportunity. We're assessing it and continue to add races to the Red to Blue program in the weeks ahead,” he said.

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