Congress has recently seen a massive drain of the eminently quotable 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 who, if elected (and we’re ignoring their odds for the moment), we’d nominate for the “Character Caucus”:
●Kerry Bentivolio, a Republican running for a House seat in Michigan. 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; 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, a Republican running for a House seat in Colorado. Can we call him Joe Six-Pack? A member of the famous brewing family, he must be a huge hit at keg parties. And just think of the headline-writing possibilities.
●Alan Grayson, a Democratic former congressman seeking his old seat in Florida. He 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, a Democrat running for a House seat in Arizona. 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, a Republican seeking a House seat in Nevada. He’s the son of legendary former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, though we don’t know whether he’ll adopt his dad’s signature sideline towel-chewing moves in Washington. Maybe during particularly nerve-racking votes?
●Mark Clayton, a Democrat running for Senate in Tennessee. Clayton’s association with tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories (NAFTA superhighway! FEMA prison camps!) has even Democrats distancing themselves from the floor installer they chose to face GOP Sen. Bob Corker.
●Linda McMahon, a Republican Senate candidate from Connecticut. She wasn’t just a desk jockey in the professional-wrestling empire she helped found with her family. She was often a part of the action in the ring. 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, a Democrat running for the House in Massachusetts. Congress has been suffering a dearth of Kennedys since Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) declined to run for reelection in 2010. The storied political franchise may be back, and we hear that this scion, 31, has a catchy, ready-made sports-inspired nickname: JK3.