Profiling Thomas Massie and Kerry Bentivolio, a Couple of Potential "Next Ron Paul"s in Congress


As the libertarian Republican Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) leaves Congress, his fans and supporters are looking for hope that his spirit will live on in the House. Three incoming freshmen received a rare Ron Paul endorsement. As I learned from interviewing them for a feature that will be appearing in the forthcoming March issue of Reason, they don't particularly want to wear the mantle of perceived "next Ron Paul" either.

Two of them have been profiled this week in other media. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, already in Congress because his predecessor quit early, has his background as judge executive in his home state examined by Roll Call, which framed him as a "Tea Party" guy. They tell a story of him finding a half-price water heater on Ebay with free shipping when the county jail needed a replacement, and leading the installation himself, and his childhood desire to build a robot out of the junk in his room–to help him clean up the junk in his room. He was actually taught econ by Paul Krugman himself at MIT, though he rejects his old professor's conclusions on political economy.

Massie and his wife launched their own company after meeting at MIT:

SensAble Devices, which created products that allowed users — designers, engineers, whoever — to feel digital objects physically. A toy engineer could put his hands in the device and get the tactile sensation of an object that had been created only on the computer.

The very positive profile concludes with:

The red hue of his district means Massie is safe from a Democratic challenger. And given his deep grass-roots support, Massie is likely to have significant leeway on how he votes without risking a primary challenge.

Effectively the first tea party member of the 113th Congress — and the only one with a vote on the fiscal cliff — Massie is uniquely positioned to help write the next chapter of the tea party's role in Congress.

See Mike Riggs' Reason profile of Massie from back in March.

Kerry Benvolio, incoming to Congress from Michigan's 11th district, slightly more notorious for earning public attacks on his sanity from his own brother, gets National Review attention this Christmas week–appropriate since Bentivolio raises reindeer and plays Santa at times.

The story provides a Bentivolio origin story:

Bentivolio, who served in Vietnam and during Operation Desert Storm, spent a year in Iraq as a platoon sergeant during the current conflict there. He was medivaced out after sustaining a neck injury in 2008 and ended up at the Fort Knox military hospital in Kentucky to recuperate. One weekend, as he drove around in a rented car, he noticed a group of what appeared to be Revolutionary War reenactors. Intrigued, he pulled over.

"People told me they were the Tea Party, and I said, 'You're supposed to be in Boston!'" he says with a laugh. "And I said, 'Well, what do you mean by that?' 'It stands for Taxed Enough Already.' I said, 'Well that's a good idea!'" Rand Paul was speaking at the rally.

"They woke me up to what's happening," he says. And they inspired him to run for office….

Bentivolio ended up the only Republican on the primary ballot when incumbent, and presidential aspirant, Thaddeus McCotter actually failed to submit enough signatures to get on the ballot:

One early morning a few days after the McCotter debacle really took off, a TV crew showed up on his porch.

"How's it feel to be the only one on the ballot, Mr. Bentivolio?" asked the reporter.

"You folks need to get off my property!" he retorted, still bathrobe-clad. "I don't do interviews at 7:30 in the morning!"

The rest of the story has more details on Bentivolio's career as a Santa impersonater and his controversial role in a friend's amateur movie that dabbles in 9/11 conspiracy theories, and drips with ambiguous feelings about whether his small-government beliefs should outweigh his personal eccentricities in judging his value as a congressman. His political instincts, from our conversation that will be appearing in the March Reason, seem worth giving a chance.

NEXT: Harry Reid: Time's Running Out on Fiscal Cliff, Blame Republicans

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  1. Massie will be a good one for Libertarians, I am sure of that. As far as I know, him, Rand Paul, and Amash are the only true Libertarians in congress. So I think we get a net status quo with Ron Paul leaving. There were 3 and we are still at 3.

    Benvolio, this is the first time I have ever heard of the guy. I will be convinced that he is Libertarian, or not, when I know a lot more about him.

    Tony to arrive screaming ‘They’re all Republicans!!!’ in 3…2…1…

    1. Question, why do there never seem to be any good Democrats besides Ron Wyden? I can’t think of a single Democrat besides Wyden, who seems genuinely committed to civil liberties, who is worth a shit on any issue.

      1. Kucinich actually strikes me as being a really principled guy. He’s way too far to the left for me on economic issues and no libertarian, but he’s not afraid to buck his own party on many civil liberty issues.

        1. And the Ohio Democratic Party tossed him off the bus. Republicans gave Dennis a safe seat and it was the state Democrats who pitched a bitch and gerrymandered him out of existence.

      2. well ‘on any issue’ makes my case for far Left Democrats easy. On net, I find about four-five national Republicans and no Democrats worth a damn, but ‘on any issue’ I can find something good to say about lots of them.

      3. I’ll probably attract some ire for this because of his legacy on McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, but Russ Feingold was one of the few Democrats I respected in the 2000’s before he lost his re-election in 2010 (or maybe 2008). He was also committed to making it once a year to each constituency to actually be present at a town-hall meeting, something you can’t even expect of a state representative.

        I guess I mostly appreciated him being one of the few Democrat voices against the War on Terror and the Patriot Act. But again, his free speech record was nothing special.

        1. That’s a good example, and John did say “on any issue”.

      4. The Dems have been completely taken over by the proglodytes. That means toe the statist lion or you are off the team.

        The irony of it is that for the GOP to survive, they need a Libertarian take over.

        Then it is on to the plains of the beltway for that ultimate battle of politicogeddon. We will be outnumbered, but the progs will have turned in all of their guns for more food stamps.

  2. When do we get some good libertarians in Congress who aren’t dweeby though?

    1. When Libertarian nerds rule the world with their Kochtopus funded army of killer robots, you will be wise to stop with the dweeb comments!

  3. You folks need to get off my property

    He has my vote!!!

  4. That dude jsut looks corrupt as the day is long lol

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