Michigan held its primaries Tuesday, and Trump-backed candidate John James won the Republican Party’s nomination for US Senate. In that spirit—and in the spirit of how often pundits like myself—and especially myself—get it wrong, today’s TBT TPP looks back to my piece from July 2017 about rap-rocker Kid Rock‘s short-lived—and insincere—candidacy for Senate.
When Rock announced, I believed he was completely serious—and the prospect excited me. Like a number of other conservative commentators, I got caught up in the hype, not to mention the sheer spectacle, of a potential Kid Rock Senate run. I went so far to order a “Kid Rock for US Senate” bumper sticker that still graces my van’s liftgate (that set me back about $12 after the outrageous shipping costs).
There’s a cautionary tale here, and it’s an important counterpoint to yesterday’s post’s plea for conservatives to support some of our less orthodox warriors, like Milo Yiannopoulos. There is a tendency on the more populist-leaning Right to fall for the charms of the “conservative celebrity” du jour—Ben Carson back in 2014-15, Sarah Palin in 2008, Chris Christie during his first gubernatorial run, Milo, etc. Indeed, we elected Donald Trump—more of an anti-Leftist than a Buckleyite conservative—President of the United States (woo-hoo!).
The point is, we shouldn’t always begin thrusting political ambitions upon everyone roughly to the right of the Clintons who enjoy pop culture success and some name recognition. We are, understandably, starved for celebrities on the Right—that’s why Kanye West’s endorsement of Trump and their shared “dragon energy” excited so many of us—but for most local, State, and even federal elections, voters tend to want someone who will actually represent their interests, not just a cool, hilarious figure.
Of course, I still think Kid Rock should have run, and I feel a bit betrayed (and more than a little foolish) that he was having a laugh at us the whole time. He certainly made his potential candidacy sound quite serious, and I still believe that, had he run, he would have had an excellent chance of unseating the Democratic incumbent, Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Political wags and armchair pundits–like yours truly–have been abuzz about the possibility of a Kid Rock Senate run in 2018. He’d be running against Democratic incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow–if he can win the Republican primaries–in a Trump-style insurgency campaign.
Immediate speculation focused on Kid Rock’s website, www.kidrockforsenate.com, and whether or not the Detroit rocker was serious, or just boosting publicity for his music. Kid Rock (real name Robert Ritchie) is offering campaign apparel on the website, including bumper stickers.
I purchased a bumper sticker ($5… plus $6.99 shipping) and it billed to Warner Brothers, not a “Kid Rock for Senate” campaign committee. Nevertheless, Kid Rock appears to be serious: he’s made an announcement at www.kidrock.com (link).
The announcement is straight out of Trump’s playbook: he goes after “fake news,” promises to be “a voice for tax paying, hardworking AMERICANS,” and invokes “We the People.”
Kid Rock is a populist at heart, and we’re living in a populist moment.
There’s not much to add to what’s already been said, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that Kid Rock should definitely run–and I think he can win. As Michigan native Jordan Gehrke writes at The Federalist:
“The Michigan Senate race will be the most-watched campaign in America in 2018 if he runs. It’s got everything: celebrity, a battleground Trump won in 2016 and must win again to get re-elected, a conventional, disciplined, well-funded Democrat, a re-run of 2016, and a trailer for 2020, all rolled into one.” (Link)
Naturally, the Establishment is poo-pooing Kid Rock’s potential run as the “dumbing down” of America. Sure, he’s crude, he’s crass, he’s kind of trashy–but he really seems to care about the people of Michigan. And they love him. While it’s unlikely that any Republican will ever win Detroit in its current state, none has the opportunity to suck up votes in the city better than hometown hero Kid Rock. With the support from rural Michigan–bona fide Trump Country–Kid Rock could best a powerful, well-funded Democratic incumbent. A new poll from the Trafalgar Group has Kid Rock winning the Republican primary against potential opponents handily, and within the margin of error against Stabenow
Kid Rock is a populist at heart, and we’re living in a populist moment. His care for the common man shows in his music career; for years, he’s been giving big concerts (with some big-name opening acts, like Foreigner) for just $20 a ticket. In the face of ever-rising concert ticket prices, that concern for his fans’ wallets spoke volumes. That’s the same kind of connection with the “little guy” that could propel him into office on a platform of government transparency and reform.
Regardless, one thing is for sure–if Kid Rock runs, 2018 will be the most exciting midterm election season in years.