3 Straight-Up Insane Reasons People Ran For Office: Raccoons, Evolution, And Gold-Fringed Flags
Sometimes, politics gets weird. In Minnesota, for example, Republican House candidate Aaron Miller is running to keep his daughter from learning evolution. Miller has said that his daughter's science teacher told her he didn't believe in evolution, but was required by the state to teach it. A not-so-stirring political origin story, which Miller summarizes neatly: "We should decide what is taught in our schools, not Washington D.C."
Hmm. Well, contrary to popular belief, and to the desires of campaign managers everywhere, not everyone has the most comprehensive, informed, or advantageous reasons for running for office. Here are three hard-to-forget examples...
1. Mark "Coonrippy" Brown Will Not Be Denied
This one's just a day old, but should already be rightly considered one of the greatest single-issue candidacies of all time. In July 2012, Brown uploaded a video to YouTube, showing himself showering with his pet raccoon Rebekha on his shoulder.
He's been locked in a drawn-out custody battle with the state of Tennessee since then, after wildlife officials seized his beloved pet. So, left with little recourse, he decided to jump headlong into the state's 2014 gubernatorial race against Republican incumbent Bill Haslem.
By his own admission, there's no grander political message at stake here — as he told local news station WBIR, "This is all about the raccoon."
2. Basil Marceaux.com Takes Tennessee By Storm
This year's race for the Tennessee statehouse is the gift that keeps giving, as the aforementioned raccoon-centric campaign will clash with that of longtime candidate Basil Marceaux. If you live outside of Tennessee and have heard of Marceaux before, it probably happened in 2010, when the media caught wind of his impassioned and bizarre ideas, delivered in a rhetorical style that would generously be described as rambling.
Marceaux's prescription for Tennessee? Do away with gun permits and registration. That way, "everyone carries guns — if you kill someone, no, you get murdered." He also wanted to "remove all gold-fringed flags from the state," which he elsewhere said prevents flags from flying properly.
Despite the way the video looks, Marceaux says he wasn't drunk at the time of its filming — slurring as he spoke because he only has three teeth, he insisted — and appeared unsteady and incoherent only because the show's producers forced him to edit and cut down his statement on the fly. Apparently. He's running again in 2014.
3. Florida Centenarian Joe Newman Runs For Congress
Let's set aside political affiliations for a second, and share a moment of mutual recognition — Joe Newman is damn impressive. Political campaigns at any level can be both physical and emotionally exhausting gauntlets, even just doing the requisite media work for a write-in candidacy. And Newman is doing just that, running to represent Florida's 16th Congressional District — all at the spry old age of 101.
Among his chief concerns — he describes himself as an "Anthropological Progressive" — is Social Security. It's an issue into which he has a unique insight that no other candidate does, however. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, he became one of the earliest employees of the Social Security Administration, working to raise awareness about the new program:
That was our job, to sell them why a program like Social Security is essential to the economy and to society. You had the same attitudes; we don't want government involved. And they forget what government is, they forget that government is society's tool to manage things.
Newman's blog suggests he felt motivated to run by the strength of his convictions, and the sense that age shouldn't preclude one from thinking, reasoning and taking action. To the extent that some people might view his long life as a liability, he's tried to argue the contrary, referring to his mortality as a "natural term limit" which should ease any fear that he'd sell out if elected.
In other words: you can feel confident in my convictions, because why on Earth would I want to sell out right before I die? On daring alone, that's a campaign pitch anyone ought to get behind.