Politics 2012: Of rematches, first-time candidates, academia and rock-n-roll

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International  |  April 29, 2012 at 5:02 AM
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Match-ups repeating themselves … Former Miss America mulls congressional bid … Bringing the U.S. Senate to life in the classroom … Candidate backs rocker Nugent

I've seen those match-ups before

It's deja vu all over again in two races in West Virginia.

Republican businessman Bill Maloney announced he would likely challenge Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, creating a rematch of their 2011 tilt. Then Republican businessman John Raese completed paperwork for a U.S. Senate run, triggering a replay of his contest with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Raese will be making his fifth run for statewide office -- he previously ran in 1984, 1988, 2006 and 2010, when he faced Manchin to complete the term of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

The 2010 campaign, which Manchin won by 10 percentage points, was nasty. Raese tried to tie the then-governor to President Obama, who is highly unpopular in the state. Manchin countered by casting Raese as a carpetbagger who was out of touch with West Virginians.

After hearing news about Raese completing the paperwork, Democrats were quick to use the same line of attack, the National Journal reported.

"Florida resident John Raese has now made it official -- he's on his fourth attempt to lose a U.S. Senate seat," West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said.

Former Miss America mulling Senate bid

Erika Harold, who took a victory walk as Miss America in 2003, said she's considering a bid for the seat of retiring Rep. Timothy Johnson, R-Ill.

"I am exploring the possibility, but I haven't made any decisions at this point," Harold, an attorney, told Roll Call. "I feel that I might have a unique perspective to offer at this point in time as a young woman who understands some of the concerns that young people face in this economic condition."

She's already done some outreach to local county officials and congressional members to discuss the race. If she does decide to run, she'll join a crowded field of local Republican officials, including state Rep. Dan Brandy, state Sen. Kyle McCarter, former state Rep. Mike Tate, real estate agent David Paul Blumenshine, former Johnson top aide Jerry Clarke and Rodney Davis, a former top aide to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill.

Harold, who grew up in the Champaign-Urbana area, is new to running for political office but was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2004.

The 13th district county Republican Party chairmen will pick Johnson's replacement on the November ballot following his unexpected retirement announcement earlier this month.

Harold said her year as Miss America provided her with some skills that would be invaluable on the stump.

"You develop the ability to think quickly on your feet -- and quickly learn the consequences of not being able to do so," she said.

That's Professor Rubio…

U.S. Sen. Mark Rubio, R-Fla., who roams the halls of Congress and has landed on the speculative short-list of possible running mates for presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, also roams the halls of academia as a professor at Florida International University.

Rubio teaches political science at the Miami university on Mondays and Fridays, the days the Senate typically is not in session, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

He uses legislative action as teachable moments. For example, Rubio turned the collapse of the Stop Online Piracy Act into a lecture on the power of social media where fears about censorship went viral.

New technology and social media also provided lecture notes for a lesson on how new media and online fundraising that made his 2010 campaign possible, the Times said.

"I was a little worried at first because I didn't know him," said Professor Nicol Rae, who leads the legislative politics class. "It was clear from the first couple of classes that he was going to be very well versed. Students perk up every time Marco rises to his feet."

Rubio began teaching at FIU after leaving the Florida Legislature in 2008, raising eyebrows because he was hired while classes and funding were on the chopping block. However, with his political background at the state and national levels, "there's a sense that political science students really ought to be queuing up to hear what he has to say," said FIU philosophy Professor Bruce Hauptli, who raised the concerns in 2008.

Students -- some with laptops proclaiming allegiance to President Obama -- give Rubio high marks. Donovan Dawson, 23, told the Times he disagrees with Rubio politically but having the expertise of an insider was "one of the major attractions of this class."

"We're not just hermits reading from a textbook," Dawson said. "We're actually able to learn from someone who has been in the process and can actually tell us what goes on and what's important and what's not."

And having Rubio has an element of cool, too.

"He's a rising star and could be president someday," Dawson said. "It's too early but in a couple years … 2016, 2020."


Senate candidate firmly in Ted Nugent's corner

John Raese, the Republican challenging Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in November, says rocker Ted Nugent is a patriot and the Secret Service investigation into his controversial comments about President Obama is troubling.

Nugent was criticized after comments he made during the National Rifle Association's annual conference in St. Louis earlier this month.

"If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year," he said in a video posted on YouTube by the NRA. "If you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don't even know what you're made out of."

(The video has been removed from the site.)

Those comments drew a visit from the Secret Service, which Nugent said was a "good, professional meeting." Later the agency said it considered the issue closed.

But not Raese, who viewed the incident as government trying to muzzle free speech, The Hill reported.

"When you see scenarios that break down like that scenario, it's a concern," Raese said in the video, obtained by the Huffington Post.

Raese compared Nugent to West Virginia University men's basketball coach Bob Huggins, saying if the coach told players he wanted to "kill" an opponent, it would be understood the remark was "a figure of speech."

Raese also recently compared anti-smoking laws to the stars Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, The Hill said.

"I don't want government telling me what I can do and what I can't do, because I'm an American," Raese said during the Putnam County Lincoln Day dinner. "But in Monongalia County you can't smoke a cigarette, you can't smoke a cigar, you can't do anything. ... I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke-free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. OK? Remember, Hitler used to put the Star of David on everybody's lapel, remember that? Same thing."

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