By Molly K. Hooper - 05/30/12 12:44 AM EDT
House Republican leaders are backing Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s (R-Mich.) bid to win reelection as a write-in candidate.
McCotter’s failure to collect enough valid signatures to get on the ballot sent shockwaves through the GOP establishment over the weekend. But senior Republican lawmakers didn’t waver in their support of McCotter, who has previously served as a member of the GOP leadership team.
Cantor announced his support during an interview on the Fox Business Network on Tuesday.
Regardless, McCotter faces an uphill battle and made a once-predictable race anything but. Local press reports in Michigan indicate that the two Democrats who qualified for the race have little chance to win McCotter’s seat.
However, a better-known Democrat could launch his or her own write-in bid, which could put the seat in play. President Obama attracted 48 percent of the vote in the newly reconfigured district.
McCotter first has to focus on staving off Kerry Bentivolio, the only GOP candidate who filed for the seat. Bentivolio is a Milford educator and veteran who raises reindeer for the Christmas season, according to the Detroit News. It is clear that Democrats will be rooting for Bentivolio, a Tea-Party backed candidate.
Complicating McCotter’s task is that he has less than $200,000 in the bank for what will be an expensive primary.
The eccentric Michigan Republican learned of his electoral woes while on a congressional delegation trip in Taipei, Taiwan, en route to a wreath-laying ceremony at Pearl Harbor.
McCotter said the news “shocked me, shocked me because it was delegated over to the people who’ve done it … the last five cycles. They started in February.”
What is especially odd is that just a couple hundred of the more than 2,000 signatures submitted by McCotter’s campaign were deemed valid. To qualify for the ballot, 1,000 valid signatures are required.
McCotter on Tuesday raised the possibility that his campaign was sabotaged.
An election official in Michigan reported that there was an “unprecedented level” of fraud in the campaign’s filing. The state attorney general is investigating the matter.
The 46-year-old lawmaker has had a rollercoaster-like cycle. He mulled a Senate bid against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and later launched a presidential bid that was widely mocked. Now he is seeking to save his House seat.
Even though he remains confident of his chances, McCotter knows there is much work ahead of the Aug. 7 primary.
His campaign intends to reach out to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who won her reelection in 2010 as a write-in candidate.
McCotter said a call would be placed to “the people who ran it for [Murkowski]. We’re going to look into that. That’s Alaska, this is Michigan. We’ve got to focus on the Michigan aspect of it. Especially after what just happened, we want to make sure … everything is done right, including what you can and can’t do, in terms of how they [voters] can sign it. They have to write it in — they can’t stamp it or sticker it. It can be any variation of the name as long as it is identifiable.”
McCotter, who had anticipated spending his campaign cash in the general election, has moved up a fundraiser that was scheduled for the fall.
“At the end of the day … you are going to spend money on the education because it’s the extra step. It enhances the volunteer component … a TV ad asking somebody to do something is not as effective as having somebody call up and go, ‘Yeah, are you going to write him in?’ ” McCotter explained.
In the grand scheme of things, McCotter was glad to learn the news before the Pearl Harbor wreath-laying.
“The part about the wreath-laying is that you’ve got to put life into perspective. This is not a pleasant thing, but there’s a whole lot of worse things that people go through,” McCotter added.
McCotter is, without a doubt, one of the more unique members of Congress. The guitar-playing lawmaker launched his short-lived White House bid at an Independence Day rock festival outside Detroit in 2011.
In an op-ed this week, McCotter compared his reelection fiasco to characters in Frank Capra’s classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
McCotter wrote, “I feel like George Bailey after Uncle Billy admitted he lost the money. Like George Bailey, knowing my misplaced trust has negatively impacted so many people is heartrending. Unlike George Bailey, I am not tempted to jump off a bridge.”
— Cameron Joseph contributed to this report.