Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, who lost his Republican primary in his re-election bid, said Thursday he will stage a write-in campaign in November.
In an afternoon phone interview with CQ Roll Call, Bentivolio said he wanted to send a message to his former GOP opponent, businessman and Republican nominee David Trott, who he alleged has continued attacking him, his family and his staff after their Aug. 5 primary.
"After they won the race, they kept up the attacks, but they expanded it beyond me," Bentivolio said. "After they won the race, they continued to beat up me, my family members, as well as my staff."
Trott trounced Bentivolio by more than 30 points, and now he's on track to win Michigan's 11th District, which located in the towns and exurbs northwest of Detroit. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as Republican Favored .
Bentivolio said around three weeks after the primary, one of his staffers came to him upset about social media posts directed at her from the Trott campaign, and he reached out to the campaign to issue a warning.
"I put them on notice: If they didn’t stop I’m probably going to end up doing a write-in campaign," Bentivolio said. "And they didn’t stop."
Stu Sandler, a consultant for the Trott campaign, denied campaign staff harassed those connected to Bentivolio. He also said Bentivolio did not contact the Trott campaign.
"Nothing like that occurred," said Sandler, adding that after the primary, the Trott campaign was focused squarely on the general election.
Bentivolio said in addition to the "attacks," an increasing number of voters told him they would stay home on Election Day, and this compelled him to run as a write-in campaign. Bentivolio said he made the final decision Thursday to run after he received a message from a voter who said they were dropping off their absentee ballot and had written him in as a candidate.
The one-term congressman also noted he wanted to support the GOP's nominee in the Senate race, former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
He also noted his write-in campaign is a long-shot.
"I don’t think we’ll get enough votes to keep the opponent from getting elected," he said, referring to Trott.
“All I’m concerned about is getting people who want a voice through a protest vote to do a protest vote and vote for Terry Lynn Land,” he said. He hoped doing so could get "a few thousand votes" for Land.
A one-term congressman, Bentivolio won the GOP primary in 2012 on a lark after then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., petitioned to run with faulty signatures.
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