The Dan Rodimer "fake cowboy" ad

Something fun to cleanse the palate on a slow news day. Meet Dan Rodimer, former pro wrestler, native New Jerseyan, and twice a failed candidate for elected office in Nevada. He lost those races because he had a bit of an image problem:

Two 911 calls in 2018 by his then-girlfriend, now-wife, were made public when he ran in Nevada. In the calls, she alleged that Rodimer stole money, jewelry and guns from her. Old arrest records from his college and law school days in Florida also resurfaced. Rodimer was accused of assault three times between 2010 and 2013, pleading guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge related to a confrontation at a Waffle House, the Associated Press reported in 2019. He completed a six-week anger management course in exchange for the charge being dropped.

What do you do when you’re accused of being a thug? You cut ads like this:

Rodimer’s wife also cut a soft-focus ad explaining the nature of her old calls to 911, and Rodimer himself addressed the allegations with his family gathered around him in yet another ad. It didn’t work, but the strategy was sound enough. When your candidate is 6’7″, has been accused repeatedly of assault, and did a stretch in the WWE, you do whatever you can to make him softer in the eyes of voters.

That was last year. Meet the new Dan Rodimer, who’s running in the special election outside Dallas — where he hasn’t lived until recently. Dan the big softie is gone, replaced by a gravel-voiced cowboy with a newly acquired twang. He’s into bull-riding too. Although if you look closely you’ll see that the man on the bull, whose face we never glimpse, is wearing brown boots while Rodimer’s are black. Hmmmm.

If you didn’t know he was a former pro wrestler from his size, you’d know it after you watched him do his “Big Dan” shtick. It’s precisely the sort of over-the-top stereotype that wrestlers use for their ring personas. A Twitter pal joked, “This guy just moving around the country trying to get elected is just an embodiment of the common everyday Texas cowboy.”

His fixation on Pelosi, communism, and trans athletes plays like a parody of modern GOP politics, although the ad is curiously light on Trump ass-kissing. No pander to Republican primary voters nowadays is complete without a bit of MAGA cheerleading, especially if you’re trying to signal that you’re tough and politically incorrect. It’s weird that Rodimer laid off that, especially since he’s apparently claimed that he has some support in Trump’s circles. “He told people he was encouraged to come to Texas to file for the seat by members of Trump’s entourage and that he had come from Mar-a-Lago and would be returning there after, according to people familiar with his exchanges,” Politico reported a few weeks ago. When the paper asked him if Trump or any Trump family members had encouraged him, he wouldn’t give a direct answer.

Some actual members of Trump’s circle seem unimpressed with him:

Is the “fake cowboy” approach really the worst idea for Rodimer, though? He’s running in a crowded field of 23 candidates and his previous attempts in Nevada to portray himself as a teddy bear obviously didn’t work. He might as well own the “tough guy” image and do it in a splashy way, where at least he’ll get noticed. He’s a performer by trade (or was, in his WWE days) so he’s performing. Name recognition is 80 percent of the battle in a race like this. He’ll be mocked relentlessly, but as long as it puts him on voters’ radars, hey.

Besides. How fun would it be to see him get elected and then confront Gaetz in the Capitol? Say it to my face, Matt.