Thad McCotter, We Hardly Knew Ye
On Friday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Mich., announced that he was resigning from Congress effective immediately. This comes after McCotter failed to make the ballot for re-election after many of the signatures on his ballots were deemed forgeries leading to an investigation. While McCotter had first planned on running for another term as a write-in candidate, he pulled the plug on his plans for re-election. After media reports that McCotter was writing a script for a colorful television pilot proposal, the congressman bowed out of public life.
It’s a hard fall for McCotter who was running for the Republican presidential nomination a year ago. While he won some fame with his guitar playing skills and his constant appearances on “Red Eye" on Fox News, McCotter is far from the most recognizable member of Congress.
McCotter did not make it to the starting gate in Iowa and quickly threw what support he had behind Mitt Romney’s presidential bid. But there’s a lesson here. The only sitting congressman to win the White House was James Garfield back in 1880 (and he had actually won election to the U.S. Senate when the deadlocked GOP convention turned to him). There have been some members of the U.S. House who have used presidential bids to raise their profiles and highlight issues. Sometimes they are successful -- Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann in the 2012 election cycle; Dick Gephardt when he sought the Democratic nod in 1988 and paved the way for a career in the House leadership.
But most members of the House who make presidential bids usually flop badly. After two bids for the Democratic nomination and facing the perils of redistricting, Dennis Kucinich went down to defeat in a primary earlier this year. Bob Dornan sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 but, that November, voters in his California district removed him from office. The list can go on -- Duncan Hunter, Pat Schroeder, Phil Crane and hosts of others.
McCotter’s political demise certainly includes some odd elements, from petition fraud to the TV pilot but he certainly did not help himself with a lackluster presidential campaign. It’s the downside of presidential campaigns. While some no-hope candidates can find a niche, others like McCotter only find disaster.