Election season is heating up and things on the campaign trail are already getting pretty interesting. While the voting ballots this fall will be chock full of the typical suit-clad politicians, there will also be plenty of less conventional candidates.
When it comes to the campaign trail, not all candidates are exactly central casting. From a convicted felon turned reality TV star vying for a seat in the Senate, to a Florida congressional hopeful who dresses up as a vampire in his spare time—there’s no shortage of interesting candidates this election season.
There’s the main show of the 2014 election, of course. But there’s also a sideshow and it’s sometimes just as interesting.
Here are the top seven quirkiest candidates—ready for the limelight, but still waiting for voters to decide if they’re ready for Washington.
The Florida Vampire: Jake Rush, the staunch conservative challenging Republican Rep. Ted Yoho in Florida’s 3rd District, seems like your standard conservative candidate on the surface. His campaign platform is typical of most Tea Party politicians—he wants to “balance the budget, reduce the debt and repeal Obamacare.” However, what makes Rush stand apart from the others is the way he spends his free time—dressing up as a vampire for live action role-play.
Though he's tried to distance himself from his hobby on the campaign trail, his Internet-dubbed nickname as the "Tea Party vampire" is probably going to stick for a while.
Cesar Chavez For Congress: Scott Fistler, who made an unsuccessful run for Congress as a Republican in 2012, is now running for the same seat as a Democrat in Arizona's largely Hispanic 7th District. But Fistler didn’t just change his party, he changed his name too—to Cesar Chavez, the famous Latino American labor leader and civil rights activist. “It’s almost as simple as saying Elvis Presley is running for president,” he told the Arizona Republic. “You wouldn’t forget it, would you?” However, the name change didn’t work out for Fistler—(or Chavez) since a judge recently kicked him off the ballot.
The Sweepstakes Guy: John King, a Republican candidate challenging Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, has a typical Tea Party platform. However, King’s campaign stands out because instead of giving away buttons and pins, he’s giving away prizes like a house, luxury vehicles, a Hawaiian vacation and a ton of guns if he pulls a tremendous upset and wins his August 7 primary.
The ‘God Controls the Weather’ Candidate: Susanne Atanus, the far Right Republican challenging Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) got some media attention when she told the Daily Herald that “God is angry,” and “we are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions.” She also says she believes “same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS,” and “if it’s in our military it will weaken our military.” She also doesn’t believe the stock market crash of 1929 actually happened and that we don’t need to worry about climate change because “God controls the weather.”
Convicted Felon/ Reality TV Star: Thomas Ravenel, who resigned from his post as South Carolina State Treasurer after getting convicted for cocaine distribution in 2007—is running for Senate and banking on a certain constituency to get him elected. “If I can just get the drug vote, I can win by a landslide,” said Ravenel the day after he filed a petition to throw his hat in the political arena and challenge Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham as an Independent. He currently stars in a reality show called “Southern Charm” on Bravo.
The Talks to Statues Candidate: Al Salehi, a California Independent candidate running to replace retiring Republican Rep. John Campbell, caught some media attention for his somewhat bizarre campaign ad that opens with Salehi casually chatting with an anteater statue (the University of California at Irvine’s mascot.) He also randomly declares in the video, “The state of California is the largest country in the world…if it was a country.” And it ends with him slowly walking off into the distance singing slightly off-key "If you want your voice to count, vote for Al. If you want your vote to count, vote with Al. If you hate the status quo and you want to let them know, vote with AL, vote for Al, vote with Al," he sings. "I'm Al Salehi and I approve this message!
The Guy Who Got A Little Too Aggressive In His Campaign Ad: Estakio Beltran, a Democratic candidate running to replace retiring Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) raised some eyebrows after airing an ad depicting him shooting an elephant piñata in the face and saying, “They call me a long shot. They say I can’t win in this district. But what happens to an elephant when it stands around, doing nothing, for too long?” The ad was apparently meant to “call attention to a do-nothing Congress in need of a kick in the butt,” but in a heavily conservative district it didn’t exactly go over well. Beltran eventually removed it, but it’s probably not something voters will soon forget. Especially because it ends with Estakio riding a donkey bareback to DC with a shotgun in hand.
Top Reads from the Fiscal Times: