Darwin for Congress!

November 9, 2012 • 9:32 am

by Greg Mayer

You’ll remember Congressman Paul Broun (R-Georgia), who infamously called embryology, the big bang, and evolution “lies from the pit of hell.” He was re-elected on Tuesday, running unopposed, but his statements did inspire a write-in campaign for an unlikely opponent: an Englishman, and a dead one at that– Charles Darwin! According to Athens Online, Jim Leebens-Mack of the University of Georgia started a “Darwin for Congress” Facebook page in response to Broun’s comments. Blake Aued at flagpole notes that it wasn’t just a Facebook page–  Charlie himself hit the streets to campaign.

Charles Darwin, AKA Tim Denson, campaigns near the Arch with his wife, Jenny. Photo by Blake Aued, Flagpole.

And he got nearly 4000 votes! That’s nearly 2%– an enormous number for a write-in, and an unprecedented number for a dead Englishman running for Congress in northern Georgia in a presidential election year. Bill Nye, the Science Guy, who slammed Broun, a member of the House Science Committee, as “by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space, and technology”, also received write-in votes. Charlie’s showing has inspired local politicians to commit to fielding a real candidate against Broun in 2014. According to Aued:

Neither Democrats nor more moderate Republicans have had any success against Broun, losing by 20-40 points in past elections. But Clarke County Democratic Committee Chairman Joe Wisenbaker says the party will “absolutely” field a candidate in 2014. “What we’re talking about doing is finding a well-qualified candidate who’s willing to change their name to Charles Darwin,” he joked.

Someone needs to run, so this national disgrace can be brought to an end.

h/t Taegan Goddard

19 thoughts on “Darwin for Congress!

  1. Why on earth would any party let him run unopposed? What sort of democracy is that? Do you not even have the equivalent of the UK’s Monster Raving Loony Party, or is the deposit too much?

    1. It varies from state to state and possibly even from county to county. Generally, you have to gather a certain number of petition signatures in order to get on the ballot…which, in turn, either means a well-organized group of dedicated volunteers or a substantial chunk of cash to pay people to gather signatures.

      Not surprisingly, the minimum number of signatures is often set such that anybody not backed by one of the (two) major parties (or not independently wealthy) is unlikely to get on the ballot. The few who do are generally either affiliated with one of the third parties or have recently split from one of the major parties.


      1. To add a relevant item that the original poster, Dominic, missed out, to stand for election to the UK parliament, you need to lay down a deposit of £500 (USD 700 or thereabouts?). “The deposit is forfeited in the event of a candidate not gaining (polling) a certain percentage of the total votes. Deposits are supposed to deter candidates who are not serious from standing for parliamentary election.” (http://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/deposit/)
        That’s not a trivial sum (hire a decent car for a week) but with constituencies between 55 and 91 thousand voters, that’s under a penny (UK) per voter for printing a manifesto leaflet, which the state will then cover the cost of mailing.
        (Caveat : one constituency, comprising an island, is just over 110 thousand. If it grows much more, the Boundaries Commission must be considering splitting it.)

    2. In Chicago and Illinois, there were a surprising number of Democrats running unopposed on the ballot. Just not worth it for the other party in terms of cash or effort, as per Ben’s comment. Nobody ever bothered to run against Daley, for example. It also gives the primary election, the previous March, that much more weight. Where they also never ran against Daley.

  2. I think Chuck did better than that. In the report I read in one of the local newspapers (online version, of course), he got 4000 votes in the first county tallied, with other counts still to come, and his percentage was more like 20% than 2%.

    1. No, Athens-Clarke County, home of the University of Georgia, is a liberal island in a conservative sea. The nearly 4000 votes for Darwin come from ACC, where Broun got just under 17,000 votes (out of 40,000 cast). The other counties will have a much smaller write-in for Darwin. Broun got nearly 211,000 votes district wide.

      1. I hadn’t realized that was the situation; even so, he got ~20% of the vote in that county and presumably picked up some votes elsewhere (even staunchly conservative areas usually have non-negligible liberal minorities) to boost him above the 2% line!

      1. First a coke-can sized dog, then a bulldog? I’m keeping my tentacles crossed in anticipation of cephalopods next.

  3. I proudly voted for old Charles in an adjacent county. We had many unopposed Republicans on the ballot in local races, but Paul Broun was the ignorant cherry on top. I was very happy to read that at least one of the write-in votes was for “bacon”.

  4. Serious strategic comment; find a sane Republican (not, historically at least, an oxymoron), known and respected locally, to run against him in the Primary. Then point out that in reality, the Primary IS the election, and let smart folks draw their own conclusions.

    When I was at North Texas, I helped elect Mike Burgess this way in preference to the abominable Scott Armey that the Republican Party machine thought was a shoo-in.

  5. “so this national disgrace can be brought to an end”

    The national disgrace is that half of the nation ignored every politicsl issue they purported to care about, including war (Libya), the Constitution (war without Congress’ approval), due process (drone strikes and Guantanamo Bay), unemployment (7.9% at least), the deficit (over $1 trillion), and hurricane response (Sandy).

    Instead, they voted with their libidos.

    1. Instead, they voted with their libidos.

      Eh? You mean everyone who voted for Obama did so because they lusted after him?

      I fail to recall Obama’s war on Libya, his opening of Guantanamo Bay, his increasing of unemployment, his turning of a surplus into a deficit, and his lousy response to Hurricane Sandy (compare and contrast the response to Katrina).

      I’m by no means an Obama fan, but these attempts to blame him for stuff of which he’s not guilty are, frankly, pathetic.

    2. Romney was illegitimate as a candidate. The Rethuglican party uses unacceptable procedures to try to force their agenda, an agenda that sucks if you have a brain cell and aren’t a bazillionaire.

      It was an easy choice really because there was no alternative. From what I’ve seen, post-election, the Rethuglicans won’t be fielding a legitimate option next time either.

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