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Monday, July 30, 2012

\'Super PAC\' Backs Santa Impersonator for Michigan House Seat


The “Brat PAC” wants Santa and his reindeer in the House.

Liberty for All, a new “super PAC” financed almost entirely by one college student's inheritance from his grandfather, has jumped into the race for Michigan's 11th District. The House race opened after the surprise resignation of Representative Thaddeus McCotter.

The group's choice to take the seat? Kerry Bentivolio, a libertarian-leaning reindeer farmer and Santa impersonator.

Liberty for All was founded by the unlikely pairing of John Ramsey, a 21-year-old from Nacogdoches, Tex., and Preston Bates, a Kentucky political operative. The two met when they were campaigning for Ron Paul and decided to martial Mr. Ramsey's money behind candidates who will carry Mr. Paul's libertarian flame. In its June 30 disclosure to the Federal Election Commission, the super PAC reported that it had raised $1.9 million, the vast majority coming from Mr. Ramsey's p ocket.

In May, after Thomas H. Massie, Liberty for All's handpicked candidate in a Kentucky Republican primary, cruised to victory, the news media began calling the group, the Brat PAC, and the nickname has stuck.

Michigan's 11th District was on no one's radar screen until Mr. McCotter's campaign inexplicably failed to deliver enough authentic signatures to get on the ballot for his sixth term. The only Republican left on the ticket was Mr. Bentivolio.

The Democrats saw a fat target in the Santa impersonator. But local Republican leaders stepped in, interviewed potential candidates, and backed Nancy Cassis, a former Michigan state senator for a write-in campaign. The Brat PAC smelled a rat.

“Members of the state party establishment met behind closed doors to pick a candidate they could count on to toe the moderate line: Nancy Cassis. That's when Liberty For All stepped in to support the real conservative, and the grass roots choice,” the group announced on its Web site.

Since July 23, Liberty for All has spent nearly $123,000 on Mr. Bentivolio's behalf, the bulk of it going to automated phone calls, phone banking and direct mail ahead of the Aug. 7 primary.