Congressional candidates of 2012 are a colorful crew: a wrestler, a beer baron and a rent-a-Santa


Who will replace Rep. Thaddeus McCotter in the “Character Caucus”? (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Congress has recently seen a massive drain of the colorful characters who livened up the institution’s predictable pinstripes and talking points. But we’re hopeful that the 2012 elections might bring some replacements.

Here are just a few candidates running for House and Senate this cycle that, if elected (and we’re ignoring their odds for the moment), we’d nominate for the “Character Caucus”:

●Kerry Bentivolio, Republican running for a Michigan House seat — This might be the one guy who could make McCotter (whose old seat he’s seeking) seem ho-hum vanilla. Bentivolio’s a reindeer farmer and a part-time rent-a-Santa; both he and his four-legged sidekicks are available for your holiday festivities. Of course, he appears shirtless, petting one of the critters, on his company’s Web site. Icing on the kooky cake: He’s a bit of a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and once appeared in a bizarre satire film on the subject.

●Joe Coors, Republican running for a Colorado House seat — Can we call him Joe Six-Pack? A member of the famous brewing family, we can only imagine Coors is a huge hit at keg parties. And just think of the headline-writing poassibilities ...

●Former representative Alan Grayson, Democrat seeking his old Florida seat — The Florida Democrat is a font of incendiary quotes. On GOP health-care proposals, he once said: “Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.” A lobbyist was a “K Street whore,” and he once opined that he had trouble listening to former vice president Dick Cheney “because of the blood that drips from his teeth.”

●Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat running for an Arizona House seat — She’d be the first openly bisexual member of Congress. And she’s a hairstyle chameleon with as many do’s as Rihanna. Bangs, bobs, highlights ... her political views might be firm, but her look sure isn’t.

●Danny Tarkanian, Republican seeking a Nevada House seat — He’s the son of legendary former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, though we don’t know if he’ll adopt his dad’s signature sideline towel-chewing moves in Washington. Maybe during particularly nerve-wracking votes?

●Mark Clayton, Democrat running for Senate in Tennessee — Clayton’s association with tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories (NAFTA superhighway! FEMA prison camps!) have even Democrats distancing themselves from the floor-installer they chose to face GOP Sen. Bob Corker.

●Linda McMahon, Republican Senate candidate from Connecticut, — McMahon wasn’t just a desk jockey in the professional-wrestling empire she helped found with her family. She was often a part of the in-the-ring action. Career highlights include a performance in the 2001 epic WrestleMania X-Seven, in which she dealt a wicked groin kick to her husband, Vince.

●Joe Kennedy III, Democrat running for the House in Massachusetts — Congress had been suffering a dearth of Kennedys since Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) declined to run in 2010. The storied political franchise may be back, and we hear this scion has a ready-made, catchy sports-inspired nickname: JK3.

Ted Yoho, Republican House candidate from Florida — By all other measures, he’s a pretty normal guy. But we happen to like the large-animal veterinarian's name, which would really liven up a roll call.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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