The clock has run out on U.S. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter’s fifteen minutes of fame. The political rise, decline and fall of the Michigan Republican collectively form a metaphor for Detroit, the city to which he has been linked his entire life. McCotter was born in Detroit, was educated there at Catholic Central High School and the University of Detroit, and made his political career representing the Motor City’s northwestern suburbs, first in the Michigan State Senate for four years, and then in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2002 through 2012.
Once considered one of the GOP’s rising stars, the likeable McCotter mounted something of a novelty run for the White House last year. After two months of speculation that he would jump into the 2012 GOP presidential scrum, the Congressman announced on July 1, 2011 that he had filed with the FEC and made his formal announcement at a rock music festival near Detroit the following day. Former President George W. Bush once referred to McCotter as “that rock and roll dude” because the Congressman plays a Fender Telecaster adorned in star-spangled livery in The Second Amendments, a bipartisan rock group that entertains US military personnel deployed overseas. McCotter’s rock persona was enhanced by his frequent appearances on the edgy late-night Fox News Channel show “Red Eye” and also on right-leaning hipster Dennis Miller’s radio program. In addition, McCotter has made guest appearances on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News weekend show, sitting in with the bass-playing former governor’s band for a few musical numbers.
McCotter’s relatively brief flirtation with a presidential campaign ended on September 22, 2011, when he announced that he was ending his run for the GOP presidential nomination, citing a lack of access to the presidential debates as his reason. The man from Michigan said that he would endorse Mitt Romney and run for a sixth term in the U.S. House, but even that effort began to unravel. Many of the required signatures McCotter submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State turned out to be duplicates and were ruled invalid. The Congressman, in a Detroit News op-ed Tuesday, attempted to explain his situation and announced that he would pursue a write-in campaign to hold on to the U.S. House seat which he never really had to break a sweat in past elections to retain. The write-in effort, however, did not even last a week, as McCotter announced Saturday that he was ending that campaign.
So as the lights go out in Motor City, it’s lights out for the political career of a man who has always been such a creature of Detroit. The collapse of his campaign, however, opens a door for Tea Party candidate Kerry Bentivolio, who by serendipity is the only GOP candidate on the ballot for the 11th Congressional District seat, although more hopefuls are expected to jump in and make a race of it. But what a strange end to McCotter’s moments in the sun.