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Controversial Farmer, Santa Claus, Bentivolio Wins McCotter’s Seat

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(Photo: Sandra McNeill, WWJ) Kerry Bentivolio is heading to Capital Hill -- after winning the election to replace Thaddeus McCotter in Michigan's 11th District.

(Photo: Sandra McNeill, WWJ) Kerry Bentivolio is heading to Capital Hill — after winning the election to replace Thaddeus McCotter in Michigan’s 11th District.

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DETROIT (WWJ) Controversial Republican Kerry Bentivolio is heading to Capitol Hill — after winning the election to replace Thaddeus McCotter for the House seat in Michigan’s 11th District. He won 51 percent to 44 percent.

Bentivolio, a former teacher, raises reindeer on a farm in Milford, moonlighting at events as Santa Claus with real reindeer — and he once said in a court deposition that he didn’t know who he really was: himself or Santa Claus. His brother Phillip Bentivolio gave an interview where he called him “mentally unbalanced” and predicted he’ll eventually spend time in prison.

His opponent was Democrat Syed Taj, a doctor and board member in Canton Township, who was questioned at public forums over his support of Obamacare.

“He doesn’t fit the mold of a typical politician,” supporter John Dalton said of Bentivolio. “He’s more like a Mr. Smith goes to Washington-type guy.”

Bentivolio liked that comparison to the hero of a Jimmy Stewart movie where a small town guy changes Washington.

“Yeah, that’s a good, I like that analogy. That sounds real good,” he said of the Mr. Smith reference.

The 11th District includes Westland and Livonia in Wayne County, a piece of Southfield in Oakland County, Highland and White Lake Townships.  The seat opened when McCotter resigned amid charges of phony signatures on his election forms.

So what happens to the reindeer farm?

“My son’s taking over,” Bentivolio said.

He added that he hopes things are about to change in politics.

“God blessed us. I hope he continues to bless us because we’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to go to Washington and we’re going to represent the 11th district like it’s never been represented,” he said during his acceptance speech.

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