Ben Quayle’s famous last name a double-edged sword in Arizona House race

October 22, 2010

David Schwartz takes a look at the latest Quayle seeking to go to Washington.

Ben Quayle knows how to spell potato.

The son of former vice president Dan Quayle also knows that his famous last name is a double-edged sword when running for elected office.

“You get name recognition right off the bat,” said Quayle, vying to represent the Third Congressional District in Arizona. “It also opens you up to more scrutiny and immediate ridicule. Some people enjoy picking on Quayle again.”

In his first run for office, the 33-year-old is regarded as the front-runner when voters in his Republican-heavy district go to the polls Nov. 2 to replace veteran GOP Rep. John Shadegg. Quayle faces Democrat Jon Hulburd.

Quayle, whose father served under senior President George Bush, is courting voters on the campaign trail with many of the same themes resonating throughout the United States this election cycle.

Photo credit: Reuters/Enrique Castro-Mendivil (potatoes in Peru)

Voters will elect 435 members of the House of Representatives and fill 37 of the 100 seats in the Senate in the election on November 2.

The Democrats will likely lose their majority in the House, which would curtail President Barack Obama’s ability to pursue his agenda for the remainder of his current term in office.

Quayle’s platform is less taxes and spending, securing the U.S.-Mexico border, and lashing out against President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

“I think it’s really time for people of my age and my generation to have a voice in the legislature there,” Quayle told Reuters, shortly before a healthcare town hall in Phoenix. “We’re going to be the ones bearing a lot of the burdens if we don’t get things under control.”

Quayle, who runs a small investment company, brushes aside critics’ claims that he is too young and inexperienced to hold office and rebuffs charges that have called his character into question.

Several years ago, Quayle contributed to a racy website and has since apologized for the posts.

Both claims have dogged him throughout the campaign, first surfacing  during his primary battle against nine others, a race he won with 22 percent of the vote.

An Arizona State University professor said Quayle should win, with the district’s Republican registration advantage and country’s mood putting him over the top.

“There might have been a chance for the Democrats to steal this if the issues were more compelling and had he faced a better financed candidate,” said Patrick Kenney, director of ASU’s School of Politics and Global Studies. “I don’t think this is the year for that to happen.”

As for the infamous 1992 incident in which Dan Quayle “corrected” a student’s spelling of potato by adding an “e,” the younger Quayle says his father now jokes about it.

“The other day, someone asked him to spell something and he laughed and said ’You really want me to spell that?”

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