Will the GOP establishment that failed to block Cong. Kerry Bentivolio in ’12 try again in ’14? Part 2

The Establishment GOP vs. the Tea Party

Continued from Will the GOP establishment that failed to block Cong. Kerry Bentivolio in ’12 try again in ’14? Part 1

On August 2, 2012, a website favorable to Bentivolio framed the race differently:

“On one side is Kerry Bentivolio; a combat veteran, a former school teacher, and the only Republican whose name will appear on the Aug. 7 ballot. He is a self- professed fiscal and social conservative who has, on a tight budget, garnered TEA Party and grassroots support throughout the district.

On the other side is a slighted hierarchy within the 11th-District GOP, which doesn’t appreciate a relatively unknown Libertarian-leaning candidate who may or may not toe the party line. The ‘Kingmakers’ have decided to anoint their own candidate, and endorse her write-in campaign. This grassroots vs. establishment theme seems to be quite common this political season, but the good ole’ boys from the Grand Ole Party have their hands full with this one.”

Several prominent past- and current-elected Republican politicians endorsed Nancy Cassis, including Michigan Congressmen Tim Walberg and Mike Rogers, and former Pennsylvania Senator and, at the time, Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum who called Cassis a “strong full-spectrum conservative” – even though she introduced Michigan Senate Bill 94 (AKA: Michigan Business Tax) while serving in the Michigan Senate.

Two days before the election, CBS News Detroit labeled Cassis “the clear front-runner in the [primary] race” against Bentivolio, and a candidate who “has the nod from the state’s Republican machine. Cassis is relying on a catchy jingle: ‘Nothing fancy, write in Nancy.’” Here’s the 15 sec. ad promoting her write-in campaign, and here’s her 30 sec. ad against Bentivolio.

On primary election day, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow targeted Bentivolio for ridicule.

“He’s a reindeer herder, he’s a failed Senate candidate, he’s on the ballot and no other Republican is. He’s also on the interweb {sic} machine at his very own Web site, oldfashionedsanta.org. The caption on this shirtless picture here is, ‘Owner Kerry Bentivolio scratches reindeer ear on a warm spring day.’…

I mean, establishment Republicans are still trying to get around the Santa reindeer guy. They are waging, in fact, a write-in campaign for Nancy Cassis. If it works, she would be only the fourth person in U.S. history to win a congressional primary as a write-in candidate.”

Kerry Bentivolio with Reindeer

Bentivolio won the GOP primary election, and lost the Special General election

Both the GOP Primary election and the Special General election to pick someone to complete McCotter’s term were held on August 7, 2012.

Cassis would not commit to supporting Bentivolio if he won the primary. According to Roll Call, in the week before August 7, when asked if she’ll support Bentivolio if he wins, she said, “Not after what I’ve seen. I couldn’t in good conscience.”

Despite predictions to the contrary, Bentivolio beat Cassis 10,280 to 8,804 votes.  But he lost the Special General election to a former United Auto Workers Union official, Democrat David Curson.  Curson completed McCotter’s term and decided not to run for a full term in the November election.

Bentivolio’s campaign benefited from help from a source noted by MotherJones in the context of citing many of the accusations thrown at Bentivolio by the Cassis campaign.

“When Rep. Thaddeus McCotter resigned abruptly last summer…it created an opening. Unfortunately for Michigan Republicans, the only GOPer who appeared on to the primary ballot was Bentivolio, a former high school teacher (more on that in a second), reindeer farmer, Santa impersonator, and co-star of a low-budget 9/11 truther film. He raised virtually no money, but got a boost from $500,000 in spending from a Texas-based super-PAC, and easily beat the establishment-backed write-in candidate. In August, the Detroit Free-Press reported that Bentivolio had been reprimanded at his Michigan high school for, among other things, telling students that they were “just a paycheck to me” and pledging to make them cry. In October, Bentivolio’s brother told the Michigan Information and Research Service, “I believe that if he gets elected, he’ll eventually serve time in prison.” With national Democrats making little effort to back Bentivolio’s challenger, Syed Taj, Bentivolio will likely get the chance.”

Bentivolio beat Democrat Dr. Syed Taj in the November 6, 2012 General Election

After Bentivolio won the GOP primary election, the Detroit Free Press described a“pivot” in the GOP leadership’s attitude toward the victor.

L. Brooks Patterson

“‘He’s not a mainstream Republican, but he won the election, and when it comes right down to it, I’m going to have to support the Republican nominee,’ said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who helped recruit Cassis.”

Before the General election, Democrat candidate Syed Taj said, “With this man, he is a tea partyer {sic}, and I don’t think my district is a tea party district.” 

MotherJones was right about Bentivolio’s chances in the General election.  He beat Taj 50.8% to 44.4%, with the remaining votes split between three other candidates.

Bentivolio featured in the IRS Scandal news recently

Recently, during the House Oversight Committee’s second IRS hearing, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio engaged in this exchange with former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. The 3.35-minute video of the exchange can be seen below.


The term of respect for Kerry Bentivolio’s service with the U.S. Army in Vietnam was, and is, “Grunt.” Grunts there humped a pack, slept on the ground, and carried an M-16 rifle.  As a Grunt, Bentivolio came under enemy ground fire, which is why he received the C.I.B. (Combat Infantryman Badge). He earned it by being shot at.

As a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 11th District of Michigan, Bentivolio came under fire again. This time, though, the lion’s share of incoming came from inside the perimeter.