Lighting a fire off the campaign trail
Politicians rarely take a break from the campaign trail, but when they do they tend to choose mainstream R&R, unwinding on the golf course or tucked away on a private estate.
Not so John Mertens, a third-party candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
The engineering professor turned candidate is off to Burning Man, a counterculture festival held each summer in the Nevada desert that ends with the burning of a 40-foot tall wooden sculpture. It will be his sixth time at the festival, which features extensive art exhibits but is also known for drug use and nudity.
“This year will be an abbreviated stay, because I don’t want to spend too much time away from the campaign. There’s no cell phone or Internet service. It’s going to be a nice break,” Mertens said in an e-mailed statement, adding that the trip to the festival — which in recent years has drawn more than 40,000 participants — fulfills a promise to his 22-year-old son.
Connecticut voters will have a choice of colorful candidates when they head to the ballot box in November. The Republican nominee is Linda McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, who sometimes made appearances in the ring among the muscle-bound performers.
Mertens is a long-shot candidate in a state where wealthy hedge fund managers head for home after a day on Wall Street. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll showed McMahon narrowing the gap on Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who leads 50-40 percent.
That leaves Mertens with little ground to lose during his time off.
Photo credit: Reuters/David Ake (burning man)