In under two months, U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter has gone from being virtually assured re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives for a sixth 2-year term to being a pariah in his own party.
Now McCotter, a Livonia Republican who represents the west Oakland County communities of Waterford, White Lake, Highland, Milford, Commerce, Wolverine Lake, Walled Lake and Wixom, has resigned from Congress.
The announcement came late yesterday, Friday, July 6.
“After nearly 26 years in elected office, this past nightmarish month and a half have, for the first time, severed the necessary harmony between the needs of my constituency and of my family,” McCotter said in the release sent at about 5:15 p.m. “As this harmony is required to serve, its absence requires I leave. The recent event’s totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits have weighed most heavily upon my family. Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must ‘strike another match, go start anew’ by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.”
McCotter, known for his love of rock ‘n’ roll and guitar playing, was referencing the Bob Dylan classic “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” in his statement.
“I do not leave for an existing job and face diminishing prospects (and am both unwilling and ill-suited to lobby), my priorities are twofold: find gainful employment to help provide for my family; and continue to assist, in any way they see fit, the Michigan Attorney General’s earnest and thorough investigation, which I requested, into the 2012 petition filing.”
McCotter has been riddled with negative media in recent weeks, first starting with his announcement in May that he had been informed that his team had submitted insufficient signatures to appear on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot.
His team had turned in just 244 of the required 1,000 registered voter signatures to appear on the primary ballot. Some of those had been photocopied. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office is investigating the matter. McCotter has accepted responsibility for the error and from the beginning of the development requested the investigation that remains ongoing.
“In closing, to The People of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, I can but say this: Thank you for the privilege of having worked for you,” the statement ended.
The district’s offices in Washington D.C., Livonia and Milford will remain open under the direction of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the statement said. Staff will continue to be available.
McCotter’s statement said he wouldn’t be granting interviews until the findings of the investigation into the campaign petition signatures have been made public.
He had planned on running as a write-in candidate but dropped those plans, saying that he would serve out the rest of his term and then step out of the public arena for good. Late last month, he announced that he would gift the balance of his campaign funds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, effectively quashing any notion that he would again seek elected office. According to the Federal Elections Commission, McCotter had $193,242 in his campaign war chest at the end of March. He also had no campaign debt at that time.
Earlier this week, a script for a television show pilot he apparently penned following his failed bid for the White House in 2011 was leaked to the media. The script had been described by some as “tawdry,” and various reports indicated that some of the characters involved were based on members of his U.S. House staff.
McCotter’s absence from the Aug. 7 primary election ballot left a sour taste in the mouths of Wayne and Oakland county GOP kingpins, who last month tapped former state Sen. Nancy Cassis to run as a write-in candidate against Milford Republican Kerry Bentivolio, a Tea Party favorite who many in the party view as an ineffective candidate with extreme views.
Bentivolio staffers have called those accusations “absurd.”
Cassis has picked up several high-powered endorsements in recent days, including today’s formal backing by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
Jim Theinel, chairman of the Oakland County Republican Party, said a special election could be held in September — after the Aug. 7 primary election — to fill the final months of McCotter’s term in office. However, he suspected that the likelihood of that happening is “1,000 to one.”
Public Act 116 of 1954 requires that the governor call a special election or direct that a vacancy be filled in the general election, which has to occur at least 30 days after the vacancy is created.
“The interesting thing is how this will effect the race between Cassis and Kerry Bentivolio. Who knows? McCotter had endorsed Cassis, from what I remember.”
Some top Republicans were disheartened about the possibility of a special election.
“I don’t know what goes on from here,” said state Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake, Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield) said around 8:40 p.m. “God forbid we would have to do something like that (hold a special election). Can you imagine the cost to the local units of government? That’s just adding insult to injury. I don’t know what the governor is going to do… I’m actually at a total, complete loss as to what’s going to happen next.”
Frank Houston, chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Party, said he was “disappointed that, if (McCotter) was going to resign because of the fiasco, he could have given the state more notice and more of a ‘heads-up.’”
“He was always a unique or somewhat unusual member of Congress, so I guess his departure would have to be as unusual as his years in office,” Houston said.
Staff in the Snyder administration tweeted the following at around 7:50 p.m.:
“Governor Snyder received Congressman McCotter’s resignation letter this afternoon. He thanks him for his years of service.”
McCotter’s Facebook page was updated around midnight with a YouTube link to The Beatles’ “All Things Must Pass” with the following remark: “The final post?”
Dr. Syed Taj, a Canton Township Democrat, and Bill Roberts, a self-described “LaRouche Democrat” from Redford Township, are in the battle for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the new 11th Congressional District seat, which carries a two-year term that pays $174,000 annually.
Representatives from the Cassis and Bentivolio campaigns did not return messages seeking comment.
This story is developing. We’ll have more as it comes in.