Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, an accidental congressman of sorts, has lost his re-election bid.
The first-term Michigan Republican got trounced Tuesday in the GOP primary by David Trott, a wealthy foreclosure attorney and former congressional aide.
Bentivolio, 62, came to Congress, representing a suburban Detroit district, through an unusual string of events. As the 2014 Almanac of American Politics notes, the former high school teacher and part-time reindeer rancher "is a conservative political newcomer who was in the right place at the right time."
The Vietnam veteran and his wife have lived on a small farm in Milford, Mich., for 20 years, where he raises a small flock of chickens, honeybees, and also reindeer, which every December are part of a traveling Christmas show across Michigan. As a high school teacher, Bentivolio taught a computer course, American literature, U.S. history, and American government.
As the Almanac notes:
He got a chance to run for the U.S. House after five-term Rep. [Thaddeus] McCotter squandered his potential for a fairly easy reelection. McCotter first launched a quixotic, long-shot campaign for the Republican nomination for president. When that plan fizzled, he failed to turn in the necessary petition signatures to run again for his House seat, sparking a fraud investigation that led to criminal charges for four campaign staff members.
The Republican primary election was contentious. The issue of Bentivolio's sudden resignation as a high school teacher and his role in a movie that appeared to blame former President George W. Bush for the September 11 terrorist attacks plagued his campaign. His opponent, former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, spent nearly $500,000 on a write-in effort and dubbed him "Krazy Kerry." Bentivolio ran as a conservative - he takes a hard line on spending, tax cuts, and abortion rights -and managed to beat Cassis with 66% of the vote.
In the strongly Republican district, Bentivolio won the general election against Democratic physician Syed Taj, 51-44 percent.
Musing About Impeachment
In the House Bentivolio serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform and the Small Business committees. But he earned a wave of negative publicity in August 2013 when he said he would like to submit articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama - but lacks any evidence of crimes committed by the president.
"If I could write that bill and submit it... it would be a dream come true," Bentivolio said after being asked at a Birmingham, Mich., meeting with supporters, about whether or not he would try to spur an impeachment process.
"I feel your pain. I know. I stood twelve feet away from the guy and listened to him. And I couldn't stand being there, but because he is president, I have to respect the office. That's my job, as a congressman. I respect the office."
Bentivolio went onto explain that he'd need solid evidence before he could take such a step, MLive.com reported at the time.
"Until we have evidence, you're going to become a laughing stock if you've submitted a bill to impeach the president, because number one, you've got to convince the press," he said. "And there are some people out there, no matter what Obama does, he's still the greatest president they have ever had. That's what you're fighting."
GOP Establishment Reasserts Itself
Trott ran in the GOP primary as more of a mainstream conservative. In fact, he's the embodiment of an establishment Republican.
Trott graduated from Cranbrook (Mitt Romney's alma mater) in 1978, and obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 1981. He graduated from the Duke University School of Law in 1985.
He is the chairman and CEO of Trott & Trott PC, which represents banks and lenders in homeowner foreclosure and bankruptcy litigation. He is the owner of Attorneys Title Agency LLC and its subsidiaries. He's been involved in numerous other lucrative business ventures.
Trott has served on the boards of the University of Michigan, On My Own, the Detroit Country Day School, The Community House, and the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Trott was a major donor to the Republican National Committee and the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney.