TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan resigned from Congress on Friday, capping a bizarre political downfall that started after the Republican's campaign failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to get him on the ballot for re-election.
The five-term congressman, who was an outspoken critic of high taxes and known for his independent streak and oddball sense of humor, had only token opposition for his party's nomination. The 46-year-old likely would have had little trouble defeating a Democrat in his GOP-leaning district, but the fiasco with the signatures led him to abandon his candidacy last month.
McCotter, from the Detroit suburb of Livonia, said then that he couldn't do his job, help with the investigation into what happened with the signatures and run for re-election. On Friday, he said the "nightmarish" experience, with its "calumnies, indignities and deceits," had made it impossible for him to retain his post and meet his family's needs.
"Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must 'strike another match, go start anew' by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen," he said in a written statement.
He said his priorities would now be finding another job and helping the state attorney general's office investigate the faulty petition filings. He said he didn't have another job lined up, but noted he was "unwilling and ill-suited" to be a lobbyist.
McCotter ran a little-noticed campaign for president in 2011 before dropping out to seek re-election to Congress.
His staff turned in 2,000 signatures supporting his candidacy, twice as many as needed to be eligible for the Aug. 7 primary ballot. But 80 percent were found to be fake or duplicates.
McCotter initially said he would conduct a write-in campaign but eventually dropped the effort. An attorney, he was first elected to the House in 2003 after serving as a state senator and county commissioner.
"We wish Congressman McCotter and his family the best and thank him for his service to the state," said Matt Frendewey, spokesman for the Michigan GOP.
Gov. Rick Snyder received the congressman's resignation letter Friday afternoon, spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said. The Republican governor's staff will consult with legal experts about whether and how to fill the vacancy for the rest of McCotter's term, she said.
A member of the House Financial Services Committee, McCotter also was a loud critic of big government. He was known among his colleagues and constituents for his flowery rhetoric and humor, and took pride in his talents as a guitarist. He played with a congressional rock band called "The Second Amendments," and after announcing his long-shot bid for the presidency last year, he jammed to a Chuck Berry tune on a guitar designed to look like an American flag. He finished last in the Iowa straw poll.
The Detroit News reported Thursday that McCotter had written a script for a proposed television variety show called "Bumper Sticker: Made on Motown" that would feature himself as host.
McCotter's abrupt exit from Congress left Kerry Bentivolio, a Vietnam War veteran, teacher and beekeeper from Milford, as the only Republican on the primary ballot for Michigan's 11th District, which covers suburban areas of Wayne and Oakland counties outside Detroit. Former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, of Novi, is running as a write-in candidate.
Two Wayne County residents, William Roberts, of Redford Township, and Oakwood Hospital chief of medicine Taj Syed, of Canton Township, are seeking the Democratic nomination.