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Note: Most of this diary is a repost from earlier today--but with a couple of VERY significant new developments!!

Update x3: By request, I've moved most of the info about the Democratic candidate, Dr. Taj, up to the top of the diary to give him more coverage.

Here's the campaign website for Dr. Syed Taj, the progressive Democratic candidate for Michigan's new 11th district.

Dr. Taj is awesome.  He's the former head of medicine at Oakwood Hospital (he stepped down in order to run for Congress), he supports single-payer healthcare, he's charming, he's intelligent, and he's running a pretty solid campaign. He's also the only Democratic member of the Canton Township board of trustees, and is highly respected by the Republicans on the board.

Here's the bizarro/gerrymandered-to-hell new 11th district in Michigan:

As you can tell by looking at the map, it also just happens to include Bloomfield Hills, aka Mitt Romney's old stomping grounds.

That's right. The new MI-11 includes Cranbrook, the high-rent private school where Mitt Romney beat up and forcibly shaved the head of one of his classmates. The good news is that while Bloomfield Hills is very Republican, West Bloomfield (the triangular wedge-shaped area) has turned very blue in recent years, so there's that.

OK, have you got that all clear in your heads?

So. On to the point of this diary, which is is just weird with a beard.

You may recall that the final chapter of Thaddeus McCotter's epic Congressional meltdown involved him resigning on the spot the day after a story ran in the Detroit News about his bizarro attempt at writing/producing a TV show about him and his own staff farting and vomiting.


TV pilot an outlet for Rep. McCotter

As U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter's short-lived presidential run fizzled last year, the Livonia Republican turned to another aspiration: writing a TV show.

"Bumper Sticker: Made On Motown" starred McCotter hosting a crude variety show cast with characters bearing the nicknames of his congressional staffers, his brother and a drunk, perverted "Black Santa." They take pot shots about McCotter's ill-fated bid for the White House while spewing banter about drinking, sex, race, flatulence, puking and women's anatomy. It features a cartoon intro and closing snippet with an Oldsmobile careening through Detroit and knocking over the city's landmarks. The double-finned car has a Michigan license plate reading: "Made on MoTown."

Well, the end result of the whole, weird trainwreck is that the only Republican whose name is going to appear on the ballot for the primary next week will be that of Tea Party candidate Kerry Bentivolio, a teacher and reindeer rancher (yes, I'm serious) who has the local GOP establishment freaked out to the point that they're scrambling to get former state Senator Nancy Cassis to attempt a write-in campaign for the primary.

However, it appears that when it comes to surreal, creepy narrative film productions, while McCotter may talk the talk, Bentivolio actually walks the walk. Witness this recent story in the Detroit Free Press about a low-budget feature-length film that Bentivolio actually starred in:

GOP hopeful Kerry Bentivolio makes fun of Bush-like character in movie

Bentivolio, a Milford teacher, had a prominent role in a low-budget Michigan-made film -- "The President Goes to Heaven" -- released last year that pokes fun at a fictional character based on Republican former President George W. Bush.

In the 85-minute satire, Bentivolio is the chief physician at a place called the North Oakland Medical Center, where the fictional president has had a stroke and lies in a coma but is able to hear and understand those around him.

The film is an indictment of the president after a terrorist attack in which planes fly into two buildings in New York on 1-11.

The nurses berate the comatose president for ordering the planes to be flown into the towers, killing their loved ones. A conspiracy theorist on a TV screen details the urban myths about "our allies" being responsible for the attack.

It just gets weirder from there:
The movie's first lady is more concerned with getting the secret codes for a $100-billion Swiss bank account set up for the president by big oil companies and the defense industry. She also tacitly endorses the idea of the Secret Service shooting a Muslim cleric and covering it up and stabs to death a different comatose man in the hospital, thinking it is her husband.

OK, so I (along with many others in the Southeast Michigan area, I would imagine) looked up the movie and found the following:

IMDB: The President Goes to Heaven

"This is the story of the President who was more powerful than God. He ruled the world with an iron fist. But getting into heaven is not easy even for him. All the laws he made for others to follow turns to his detriment. Everything that was done to ruin him turns out to be his salvation. What the President has to do to get into heaven?"

And finally, the trailer for the film:


OK, then.

Anyway, that leads to the title of this diary. There's been two important developments in the past 24 hours:

First, Cassis, the GOP write-in candidate, has publicly announced that she refuses to support Bentivolio if he wins the primary. I know there's been plenty of bitter primaries in which one candidate refuses to answer whether or not they'll support their rival, but I can't remember one where they've flat-out stated that they won't do so:

Michigan: Nancy Cassis Will Not Support Kerry Bentivolio if He Is Nominee

NOVI, Mich. — Former state Sen. Nancy Cassis will not support her primary opponent if he wins the 11th district Republican nomination next week.

“Not after what I’ve seen,” she told Roll Call over a late breakfast at Big Boy restaurant last week. “I couldn’t in good conscience.”

Cassis is running a write-in campaign to defeat Kerry Bentivolio, an Iraq veteran and reindeer rancher who is the only Republican on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. They are running in the 11th district in the suburbs and exurbs west of Detroit.

Second, check this out: A Ron Paul-associated SuperPAC has just dumped a whopping $300,000 into the primary race on behalf of the teabagger reindeer farmer/911-conspiracy theorist-portraying Kerry Bentivolio:
Super PAC with ties to Ron Paul kicks $300,000 into Bentivolio campaign

The Liberty for All Super PAC, which has ties to Libertarian-leaning Republican Ron Paul, is dumping more than $300,000 into Republican Kerry Bentivolio’s congressional campaign.

The PAC has spent $117,579 on robo calls and mailers for Bentivolio and against Republican write-in candidate Nancy Cassis, a former state Senator from Novi. The PAC also purchased more than $200,000 in air time for a commercial supporting Bentivolio, a Milford teacher and part-time farmer who raises reindeer to be used to pull Santa’s sleigh during holiday parades.


All I can say is...


Goal Thermometer

Update: In response to a request in the comments, here's my analysis of Dr. Taj's chances of actually flipping the seat:

--In the old 11th district, he wouldn't have had a chance against McCotter, barring a live boy/dead girl development. Natalie Mosher (now Dr. Taj's campaign manager) only managed to eke out 38% in 2010, although that was also obviously an ugly year for Dems in general. Even in 2008, the Dem candidate only managed 45%.

In the NEW 11th district, he still wouldn't have had a chance against McCotter (the new district is actually more Republican, but the newly-added sections also don't know McCotter very well, so it kind of cancelled itself out).

However, Taj was planning on going up against McCotter anyway, running a real campaign with a decent amount of fundraising (over $200K in the last quarter), a solid candidate and good connections, etc etc. Old district or new, I'd have only given him about a 5-10% chance of pulling it off against McCotter.

Then McCotter's bizarro ballot petition fraud mess happened, and everything spiraled out of control, leaving the current situation.

First, Taj has to get past the primary--his only challenger is a Lyndon LaRouche nutcase. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but the LaRouchey is also a white guy with a non-ethnic name (Bill Roberts, if you can believe it), which could make it difficult for a guy with an Indian name to get past with low-information voters.

Assuming Dr. Taj gets the nomination, if Nancy Cassis manages to pull off the write-in campaign, it'll be much tougher (she's considered a "respectable", vanilla GOP candidate, and as a former state Senator has some name recognition); I'd say perhaps a 20% chance of flipping the seat.

However, if Bentivolio wins the GOP nomination, Dr. Taj's chances improve dramatically...he'd still be an underdog, but I'd put his odds closer to 40%, give or take.

Too many unknowns to say for sure, though.

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