Thaddeus McCotter Resigns From Congress

Thaddeus McCotter, a five-term Michigan Republican with a personality as idiosyncratic as his first name, resigned from Congress yesterday. Of course, he did so on Facebook. By political standards, this was the most normal thing about his resignation.

McCotter was a quirky but relatively successful Congressman from the Republican suburbs of Detroit. Then, last year, he decided to run for President. His campaign lasted for 11 weeks. After being shut out of debates and receiving only 35 votes in the Ames Straw Poll, McCotter decided to call it quits. Although his presidential campaign had been a total failure, it didn’t seem likely to damage him too badly. After all, McCotter had a relatively safe seat in Congress to return to—not to mention all of the advantages of incumbency.

But this turned out not to be the case. McCotter managed to become the first incumbent in modern history to fail to submit the necessary petition signatures for re-election and thus not qualify for the ballot. In fact, his campaign submitted 2000 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State, only 1000 of them needed to be valid. Instead, just 244 made the cut. Apparently, many of the signatures submitted were simply xeroxed copies of each other. The result was a political trainwreck. After some initial bluster, McCotter eventually decided against trying to mount a longshot write-in campaign for his seat. But then, things got really weird.

A script for a television show that McCotter had written as “cartharsis” emerged. The show, as described by the Detroit News:

starred McCotter hosting a crude variety show cast with characters bearing the nicknames of his congressional staffers and his brother. They take pot shots about McCotter’s ill-fated bid for the White House while spewing banter about drinking, sex, race, flatulence, puking and women’s anatomy.

This embarrassment was the last straw. So McCotter, quoting Bob Dylan and citing the “The recent event’s totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits,” resigned suddenly on Friday. It’s unclear what McCotter will do next or if a special election will be required to fill the remaining months of his term. However, there is one safe bet. Somehow, some way, the saga of Thaddeus McCotter will likely get even stranger before it’s all done.

Ben Jacobs

Ben Jacobs is a journalist living in New York. He is a former reporter for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and contributor to the Boston Globe editorial page. Follow him on Twitter @bencjacobs.