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Congressional candidate moves to Texas, finds a new persona

Nevada's Dan Rodimer came up short in his congressional race five months ago, clearing the way for Texas' Dan Rodimer to try again.
In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, Dan Rodimer, Republican candidate in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, speaks with the media at an election night party in Las Vegas.
In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, Dan Rodimer, Republican candidate in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, speaks with the media at an election night party in Las Vegas.John Locher / AP Photo

It's not unprecedented for a politician to run for elected office in more than one state. Some have pulled it off quite well: in the 19th century, for example, Sam Houston was elected to statewide office in both Tennessee and Texas. More recently, Mitt Romney won statewide races in both Massachusetts and Utah.

It is, however, a tough thing to pull off -- a task made even more difficult when candidates try to reinvent themselves after relocating.

Take Dan Rodimer, for example.

As we've discussed, Rodimer, a former professional wrestler, ran a GOP congressional campaign in Nevada last year. The Las Vegas Republican won his party's nomination, and ran a competitive race in Nevada's 3rd district, but he came up short against Rep. Susie Lee (D). Given the margin -- he only lost by three points -- it was easy to imagine Rodimer trying again in the next election cycle.

The surprise, however, came earlier this month when Rodimer announced that he is trying again, this time running in Texas' 6th district, hoping to fill the vacancy left by the late Rep. Ron Wright (R).

By any fair measure, it's strange to see a federal candidate run in one state, lose, move, and then run again in an entirely different state, all within five months. But making this story even more usual is the degree to which Rodimer has transformed. The American Independent reported:

In his Nevada race, Rodimer ran ads painting himself as a clean-cut, family man — wearing a collared shirt and seated on a couch with his wife and five children.... Now, Rodimer is back and running in a special election in Texas' 6th District.... And Rodimer looks like a totally different person, donning a cowboy hat and positioning himself as a rodeo bull rider with a Texas accent.

Mother Jones' Mark Helenowski did a nice job lining up two very different messages from the same candidate, less than a year apart. Here, for example, is Nevada's Dan Rodimer, speaking softly, running in a suburban district, and here is Texas' Dan Rodimer, presenting a new, gruff persona with an accent he apparently picked up quite recently.

Even some Republicans are making fun of the New Jersey-born candidate and his efforts to reinvent himself.

I won't pretend to know whether Dallas-area voters will find this compelling, but we won't have to wait too long: the congressional special election is scheduled for May 1. A runoff seems inevitable -- there are roughly two-dozen candidates running in a jungle primary -- and it's scheduled for May 24.

Lydia Bean, one of Rodimer's Democratic rivals, told him in a tweet, "I know you're new around here so let me introduce you to an important Texas phrase: all hat, no cattle. Doesn't take a bull to notice someone completely full of it."