Published on 08-08-2012 12:45 AM
photo by JARRAD HENDERSON/Detroit Free Press
A candidate who plays Santa Claus at Christmas events and actually raises reindeer won the Republican nomination in Michigan’s 11th District (Wayne-Oakland Counties) Tuesday night. Near-final results showed 60-year-old Kerry Bentivolio, an area leader in Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, winning more than 60 percent of the vote over Nancy Cassis, former state senator who ran as a write-in candidate.
One could almost call Bentivolio’s unusual political saga a true-to-life version of the late Fletcher Knebel’s classic novel“Dark Horse,” about a plain-spoken New Jersey highway commissioner who is given the Republican nomination for president when the nominee suddenly dies. With the sudden and surprising retirement of six-term GOP Rep. Thad McCotter in June, Bentivolio — who was also a U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm — was the lone candidate left on the ballot in this heavily Republican district. He was running on a platform of abolishing the income tax and Department of Education and getting the U.S. out of the United Nations and International Monetary Fund.
Obviously alarmed at the thought of a Paul man being their nominee, local GOP leaders rallied behind the 68-year-old Cassis. But because the filing deadline for the primary ballot had passed by the time of McCotter’s June 2 exit, former State Sen. and State Rep. Cassis could only run as a write-in candidate. Her campaign materials read: “Nothin’ Fancy. Just write-in Nancy,” and she spent more than $200,000 of her own money on the late-starting campaign.