From left: Tom Petri, Josh McLeod and Scott Parkinson, staffers for Sen. Ron Johnson, are growing mustaches to raise money for mens cancer charities.
Sen. Ron Johnson is as clean-cut as they come — a button-down Midwesterner with nary a hint of hair on his face.
His staff, well, that’s another story, at least this month.
Four members of the Wisconsin Republican’s staff had an extra daily task to focus on in November: grooming their mustaches for a good cause.
“It’s motivated by a desire to do what they can to raise money to fight prostate cancer,” Press Secretary Brian Faughnan said.
Johnson’s office is participating in “Movember,” an annual November event to raise awareness and money for certain cancers that affect men.
Not to be confused with “No Shave November,” Movember specifically encourages participants to grow mustaches for charity.
Like other Movember participants, Johnson’s staffers have created a team, the Rollies Fingers, and a page on Movember.com to help encourage donations. The team is named after baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Rollie Fingers, a former Milwaukee Brewer who is famous for his handlebar mustache.
“Movember is all about creating a men’s health movement and creating a world where men live aware of their lifestyle,” said Jack Choate, a former Hill staffer and aide for the National Republican Senatorial Committee who is now director of development for Movember U.S.
This year, some Hill staffers participated in the inaugural Capitol Hill Movember Challenge, which was more of a trial run to gauge interest of staffers. The teams included the Senate Staches and House Handlebars.
Tommy Holstien, a staffer for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), reached out to Movember to help develop the challenge on the Hill.
“It’s a neat event for us on the Hill because we are around so many different types of people that come on a daily basis,” Holstein said. “It’s access that we have to create awareness.”
He added that he hopes the Hill challenge can attract more participants and — who knows — maybe even a Member one day.
No major-party presidential nominee has sported facial hair since Republican Thomas E. Dewey (who lost twice, in 1944 and 1948, which might explain why none has since). It has been almost a century since President William Howard Taft groomed his mustache in the White House.
But legislative branchers have continued to don beards, mustaches and even day-old scruff. And when lawmakers vote to stop shaving, people take notice.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) received some press last month when he wore a Nixonian five o’clock shadow during floor votes. It didn’t last. He appeared clean-shaven the next day. Last year, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) faced a flurry of media attention when he grew out a beard at the end of the 111th Congress.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.