Ex-Rep. Bentivolio seeks political comeback

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio is trying to stage a political comeback, filing petitions Thursday to try to get his name on the November ballot as an independent candidate in the 11th Congressional District.

Bentiolio said Thursday he submitted more than 5,500 signatures on nominating petitions to the state Bureau of Elections in a bid to win back the seat he lost to Birmingham attorney Dave Trott in an August 2014 Republican primary. The Birmingham lawyer defeated Bentivolio by about a 2-1 margin, 66 percent to 34 percent.

“It is time we hold our representatives in office accountable for their behavior and actions, no longer will we trust what they say, rather what they do,” Bentivolio said in an email to The Detroit News.

Bentivolio waged a quixotic general election write-in campaign for the 11th District after losing the 2014 primary and ended up finishing with less than 1 percent of the vote, behind the Libertarian candidate who received more than 3 percent of the vote and Trott’s Democratic challenger Bobby McKenzie, who got 41 percent.

“I’m not a Republican anymore,” Bentivolio said Thursday. “My No. 1 thing is to spread the message about being transparent, being accountable for your actions.”

Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the Bureau of Elections, confirmed Bentivolio turned in nominating petitions on Thursday.

“Elections staff will review the petitions and make a report to the Board of State Canvassers” on whether Bentivolio has the minimum 3,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for a spot on the November ballot with no party affiliation, Woodhams said.

Bentivolio, of Milford, said 25 volunteers gathered more than 5,500 signatures for him over the past two and-a-half weeks in the 11th District, which includes western Wayne County and parts of western and central Oakland County.

A former teacher and Army veteran, Bentivolio served one two-year term after winning a seat that was left vacant by former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s failure to get enough signatures to get on the August 2012 ballot.

Trott is running unopposed in the Aug. 2 Republican primary as he prepares for his first re-election attempt.

Dr. Anil Kumar, a urologist from Bloomfield Township, also is running unopposed in the Democratic primary next month. Kumar lost the 2014 Democratic primary to Bobby McKenzie, who lost the November 2014 general election to Trott, 56 percent to 40 percent.

Trott reported having $682,905 for his re-election campaign at the end of June, according to a July 15 report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Kumar reported having $444,884 in cash on hand as of June 30 and has loaned his campaign $550,000

Trott, a wealthy attorney and businessman, spent $3.6 million of his personal fortune defeating Bentivolio and McKenzie.

In February 2015, Bentivolio filed for bankruptcy protection, listing nearly $300,000 in debts and unpaid bills. The Detroit News first reported the bankruptcy filing.

In an interview off the House floor in December 2014, Bentivolio told The Detroit News that he was facing severe financial troubles after an Oakland County judge ruled he had to pay $120,000 to his fired former campaign manager, Robert Dindoffer. Although he made $174,000 a year in Congress, Bentivolio said he didn’t have a credit card and was only able to spend what he had to his name.

“This is what happens when a regular guy gets an opportunity to come to Congress,” he said.

Asked what he planned to do when he left Congress, Bentivolio said: “I plan to follow in the footsteps of Jesus: Broke and homeless.”


Twitter: @ChadLivengood