Republicans like to say that they're a “big tent” party with room for all sorts. Well, this past week that big tent may be expanding to cover a flurry of celebrity Senate candidates including Kid Rock and Caitlyn Jenner.
Athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner has teased about a run as a Republican in California.
Neither would-be candidate has filed the official candidacy paperwork as of this time.
I hope they don’t. At least not until they learn something about governance.
I know celebrities have had long histories in politics. We have only to point to the likes of Sen. Al Franken, former Rep. Sonny Bono, and former President Ronald Reagan to see the intersection of politics and Hollywood. But what we tend to forget is that they didn't leave a soundstage and head right for Washington.
Bono was mayor of Palm Springs first. Reagan was president of the Screen Actor’s Guild and governor of California. Al Franken has been a noted political commentator for decades. These were students of policy as well as politics. They took the time to learn the job before running for national office.
And make no mistake, there is more to learn than just the ability to shock people on the campaign trail. Our current president notwithstanding, people who run for office need to be prepared to do the job well. It’s public service and any candidate should be going into it to serve the public.
A senator’s job is to represent the best interests of their home state, not cater to whatever show business fandom that celebrities bring to bear.
If Kid Rock and Caitlyn Jenner really do make a play for these Senate seats, I want to see activists asking them hard questions. Not hot button questions, but actual hard questions. Things like, “What’s a committee mark-up and do you think you’d ever have to attend one?” “What is cloture?” Or this: “Name three Senate committees you want to sit on and explain their jurisdiction.”
If your candidate can’t answer questions like that, they don't know enough to do the job on day one. That goes for anyone running for office, not just celebrities.