Michigan congressional candidate Kerry Bentivolio (pictured) will get a leg up in his battle against the GOP establishment in next week's Republican primary election, courtesy of the Ron Paul movement-aligned Liberty For All Super-PAC. The SuperPAC — headed by 21-year-old Texas financial heir John Ramsey — has committed an estimated $300,000 (already spending some $130,000, according to OpenSecrets.org) to support Bentivolio in his primary race over establishment write-in candidate Nancy Cassis.
Bentivolio — a teacher and part-time reindeer farmer — committed to the race earlier in the year when victory seemed all but impossible. The Tea Party-aligned Bentivolio faced a quixotic but daunting primary against five-term incumbent Thaddeus McCotter in this district in the northwest suburbs of Detroit, but the eccentric McCotter surprisingly failed to gain enough signatures to make the ballot for reelection. The result was that Bentivolio, a Tea Party candidate with similar positions to Ron Paul, emerged as the only Republican on the August 7 primary ballot in this heavily Republican district and the favorite to succeed McCotter.
That was when establishment GOP leaders began scrambling to put together a write-in campaign to select someone other than Bentivolio, settling on former state senator Nancy Cassis, who has put up $200,000 of her own money for the write-in primary effort. Cassis told the Oakland Press August 1 that she has the funding, network, and name recognition to pull off a victory: "We've devised a very strategic plan and we're following that plan. Educating people first and foremost to educate the public to write in my name. I've represented one-third of it in the state senate so the name identification is there and that's helpful.” But the Detroit Free Press concluded August 1 that “the infusion of cash is bad news for Cassis.”
Ramsey's Liberty for All Super-PAC — which bills itself as the super-PAC that wins elections — rallied to erase the monetary and name recognition advantage of Cassis, declaring that “members of the state party establishment met behind closed doors to pick a candidate they could count on to toe the moderate line: Nancy Cassis. That’s when Liberty For All stepped in to support the real conservative, and the grassroots choice.”
If Bentivolio is victorious, it'll be the second primary win by the Texas-based Liberty For All Super-Pac. In May, the super-PAC plunked $585,420 into a Kentucky GOP primary where a friend of Ron and Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, emerged victorious in a four-way race against establishment candidates.
Bentivolio could actually start serving in Congress before January, as the eccentric McCotter resigned from Congress July 6 complaining about “this past nightmarish month and a half.” Bentivolio will be alone on the August 7 primary ballot (for the full two-year term beginning in January), but will appear on a crowded primary ballot that will include Cassis for the September 5 special election (to finish out McCotter's term from November 6 through the next Congress in January). What that means is that voters in Michigan's 11th District will actually vote twice for their congressman November 6 — once to finish up McCotter's term (which won't end until January) and once for the full two-year term beginning in January.
The estimated cost of the special primary to finish McCotter's term will be $650,000 to state taxpayers, according to Mlive.com, a company that publishes half a dozen newspapers in Michigan.
Bentivolio has been a Ron Paul fan and has received the endorsement of the retiring Texas congressman as well as key Paul allies, including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Michigan Representative Justin Amash. Cassis has the endorsement of the two metropolitan daily newspapers, the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, as well as two Republican congressmen (Mike Rogers and Tim Wahlberg, both of Michigan), as well as many of her former colleagues in the state legislature.
Photo: Kerry Bentivolio