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In The Loop
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 09/27/2012

Meet 2012’s quirkiest congressional candidates, including a wrestler, a beer baron and a rent-a-Santa

Who will replace Rep. Thaddeus McCotter in the “Character Caucus”? (Mark Wilson - Getty Images)
So long, Rep. Barney Frank! How we’ll miss your cranky wit and withering insults. Adieu, Rep. Thad McCotter. Without you, there’ll be no more obscure Bob Dylan lyrics quoted on the House floor.

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.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 09/27/2012

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