Michael Illions, aka A.J. Sparxx, a former professional wrestler who runs the political activist organization and blog Conservatives With Attitude, has never held elected office. But Jesse “The Body” Ventura only served four years as the mayor of a relatively small suburban town before he was elected Governor of Minnesota.
So Illions, 42, thinks people shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss him as a potential congressional candidate in the seventh district.
“If Jesse ‘The Body’ can do it, I can do it,” said Illions, who sent around an email asking friends and supporters to vote for him in an unscientific PolitickerNJ.com poll asking who the strongest Republican candidate to replace retiring U.S. Rep Mike Ferguson is (Illions is currently ranked 6th out of 16, with 103 votes).
Illions said that he won’t run if someone who meets his conservative standards, and who has more experience and an organization, steps in. But nobody’s appeared on the horizon so far, which has Illions seriously considering the possibility.
But aside from lack of funds and organization – and the Republican primary disadvantage of being from Middlesex County — Illions will have to weigh whether he’ll be able to run for office with a two year old son who suffers from hydrocephalus, and has had to have 11 brain surgeries. That caused him to drop a bid for Woodbridge Council in 2005.
“I’m leaning towards forming an exploratory committee,” said Illions, who case his first vote for Ronald Reagan in 1984. He’s been true to core conservative values ever since, and will take an “independent” stand from the rest of the party if necessary, he said.
“I know (independent) is a big buzzword. I mean independent of what the party dictates and just sticking by my own principles that adhere to my own platform,” said Illions.
One potential candidate Illions doesn’t consider to be conservative enough for his tastes is outgoing Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, the presumptive favorite for the nomination.
Lance is too liberal on social issues, said Illions, and signed a letter to U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett urging him to cast a vote to override President Bush’s veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“I would say that it would be a disappointment to conservatives and to Republican tradition if he was to run and win. I don’t think he represents what I consider the republican platform and the conservative base,” said Illions.