Reality show politics is now officially a thing.
First, there was Donald Trump and “The Apprentice.” Then came former South Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Thomas Ravenel and “Southern Charm.”
Now, there could be a Colorado version — seriously. Three’s a trend.
As The Colorado Statesman reports today, Denver resident Ben Higgins, the former heartthrob star of the matchmaking reality TV show “The Bachelor” who is considering running for a seat in the state House, is gearing up for a new Colorado-based reality show with his bride-to-be Lauren Bushnell. Reporter Ernest Luning got a hold of an e-mail Higgins sent to Republicans this week.
From The Statesman:
“I want you to hear it from me first,” Higgins wrote. “And I want you to know something else: this opportunity in no way lessens my sincere interest in seeking the HD4 seat and replacing Dan Pabon. Nor would it interfere with my commitment to win this seat for our party in November.”
“In fact, this new TV program would provide the chance for me to talk directly to an expanded number of HD4 residents, rather than face the same obstacle experienced by most candidates — having their message ignored by the news media,” Higgins wrote.
Higgins also explained how politicians have to balance a potential run for office with a day job.
“For some, that might be running a small business or a law firm,” he wrote, “but for me, I’m blessed to have the opportunity to appear on television. My expectation is that this opportunity will give us one more way to promote empowering people through personal freedom.”
That’s certainly one strategy. And one that has been tried before, though with a less wholesome candidate.
In 2014, reality TV star Thomas Ravenel, a former Republican state treasurer of South Carolina who went to jail on cocaine charges, decided to run for U.S. Senate while filming the lowbrow/high-society show “Southern Charm,” based in Charleston. At the time he said he thought his profile on the show could boost his bid and he could use it to spread his message of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and social libertarianism. He ended up with less than 4 percent of the vote, and later blamed “personal problems” in part for his devastating loss.
So a potential Higgins run wouldn’t be breaking entirely new ground.
Ballots are currently out in the race for HD 4, which encompasses the Sloan’s Lake area of Denver, a seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Dan Pabon. Republican Willie Pinkston is currently running unopposed for the Republican Party’s nomination for the seat, but has said he would step aside if Higgins wants to get into the race.
In this instance, a reality TV candidate might even lead to a better informed public. As The Colorado Independent previously reported, such a switch-a-roo — should it happen— would likely draw increased scrutiny on the obscure practice of Colorado’s “vacancy committees” political parties use, instead of elections, to place people on the ballot or in positions of power.