Entertainer Kid Rock published an online message in July, hinting at a possible Republican U.S. Senate campaign in Michigan next year. He said at the time that he would host a press conference at some point over the ensuing six weeks, "and if I decide to throw my hat in the ring for US Senate, believe me ... it's game on."
The six weeks came and went, with no word from Kid Rock. The Detroit Free Press published a report this morning noting that the bid is apparently over -- and was never real in the first place.
Mocking people who took the idea seriously, Kid Rock said this morning he's not running for U.S. Senate."F--- no, I'm not running for Senate. Are you kidding me?" Rock said on Howard Stern's SiriusXM show. "Who couldn't figure that out? I'm releasing a new album. I'm going on tour too. Are you f------ s------- me?"
The conservative entertainer, who supported the last two Republican presidential tickets, added that the idea of his Senate candidacy was a "joke" that some mistakenly took seriously.
And while this morning's interview will presumably end speculation about Kid Rock's political career -- his name has been included in recent Senate polling in Michigan -- perhaps now is a good time to consider why so many in Republican politics thought this would be a good idea.
This Associated Press article from mid-August stood out for me at the time, and seems relevant anew this morning.
The head of a major Super PAC aligned with Senate GOP leadership encouraged performer Kid Rock to run for Senate against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.The comments from Steven Law in an interview Friday on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program were surprising. But Law insisted he was quite serious, saying his group would "be actually very interested" in a Kid Rock candidacy. [...] Law pointed to a recent poll in which the entertainer trails [incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow] by eight points, saying it's "not a bad place to start out."
Law, the president of the Senate Leadership Fund, added, "We'd be pretty interested in his candidacy. So if you're watching, Kid, we hope you run."
Note, Steven Law isn't just some random GOP partisan; he served as chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and was the CEO of American Crossroads. Law currently leads one of the largest super PACs in Republican politics, which is closely aligned with the Senate Republican leadership.
And yet, Law told a national television audience that a Kid Rock Senate candidacy would not only be worthwhile, but that he and his colleagues were interested in supporting it.
Or put another way, Law didn't get the "joke."
Whether you love or hate Kid Rock's music, there's nothing in his background that suggests he's qualified to represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate, but for some Republicans, qualifications are no longer a relevant metric for evaluating prospective candidates. Instead, much of the party has adopted a two-pronged test:
1. Is the person a Republican?2. Can the person win?
There's no shortage of other questions Republican partisans should consider -- starting with, "Would this person be a good senator?" -- but they go unasked, largely because they've been deemed irrelevant.
This is the exact dynamic that leads the party to rally behind Alabama's Roy Moore, arguably the most radical major-party Senate nominee in a generation, who believes, among other things, that he can ignore court rulings he disagrees with, and that Congress should treat religious minorities he doesn't like as second-class citizens.
But he's a Republican, who can probably win, and therefore the party considers him an excellent choice. Moore may believe that kneeling during the national anthem is a criminal act, and may insist that pre-school is a Nazi-like institution for brainwashing children into being liberal, but his victory in Alabama is a top party priority anyway.
This is also, incidentally, how Republicans ended up rallying behind a strange reality-show personality who somehow became the president of the United States.
In theory, the idea that so many Republican officials took Kid Rock seriously as a Senate hopeful should be a gut-check moment for the party, causing GOP partisans to reflect on whether they've gone too far in abandoning the meritocracy and any sense of standards. That, of course, won't happen -- because there are elections to be won, and nothing else matters.