Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Races Offer Glimpse of The Bizarre




NEW YORK -- In one corner of the land, Gus Bilirakis is alive and a winner - no matter what his opponent says. In another corner, a town's two candidates for coroner are both dead themselves. And smack in the middle, a former pro wrestler is now Minnesota's governor.


This, in a nutshell, is a tableau of Unusual Politics 1998.


It gives a glimpse of Florida, where Bilirakis faced the oddest of charges from his opponent, Diane Ellis: that he was an impostor named Danny Divito and the real Gus Bilirakis was dead. Whoever the guy is or isn't, now he's a state representative.


It gives a peek into the coroner's race in Yakima, Washington, where the two men competing to handle the dead have themselves died - the challenger right before the primary and the five-term incumbent, Leonard Birkinbine, on Sunday.


And it affords a pass over Minnesota, where Jesse "The Body" Ventura, tough guy and renowned grappler, overcame one of the state's biggest political names - Hubert Humphrey (III, in this case) - to become governor.


"We shocked the world," said The Body.


But there's more.


-Fred Tuttle, a 79-year-od dairy farmer in Vermont who knocked off his Republican primary opponent and then threw his support behind incumbent Democratic Senator. Patrick Leahy won handily. But Tuttle, who had starred as himself in a low-budget movie about a farmer-turned-candidate winning a congressional campaign, still scored 23 percent of the vote.


-Paula Sage, a candidate for judge in Oklahoma whose campaign received international attention after an anonymously distributed flier featured an old party photo of her baring her breasts, lost - but just barely.


-Of a five-choice field in the Nevada campaign for governor, Republican Kenny Guinn defeated Democrat Jan Jones. Here's the rub: Runners-up Chuck Horne and Terry Savage both finished behind the No. 3 choice, which got more than 12,000 votes - "none of the above."


-Nearly 50,000 New Yorkers cast their ballots for the Green Party's gubernatorial candidate - 88-year-old Al Lewis, the erstwhile "Grandpa" from the 1960s TV series "The Munsters." He placed near the bottom of a broad field of candidates.


-In Indiana, Bob Kern altered a check from $15 to $515, impersonated a female judge over the phone and was accused of threatening to shoot a bank employee when his ATM card didn't work. He was soundly thrashed in his congressional race by Republican Dan Burton, an incumbent who admitted to having an affair.


Finally there was Bob Davies. The Montana Republican contended President Bill Clinton should be tried for treason because he allowed a U.S. corporation to give military and satellite technology to China. And then, Davies said, Clinton should be executed.


Davies was elected Tuesday to the Montana House of Representatives.