A national comedian announced this weekend that he's going to work to defeat Minnesota Republican Congressman John Kline in the November election.
Bill Maher made the announcement on his HBO program Friday night after running the so-called "Flip a District" contest. He said his viewers picked Kline over 16 other Republicans because Kline backs for-profit colleges that Maher said result in high student debt.
"The living embodiment of legislation for hire," Maher said as he announced Kline as the winner. "The Men's Wearhouse of empty suits. From Minnesota's 2nd District, come on down, John Kline!"
It isn't certain what Maher, a Democrat, will do to unseat Kline, but he spent $1 million to re-elect President Barack Obama in 2012. It also isn't certain if Maher will make a difference in the race. Kline is currently considered in safe territory by national pundits.
However, Kline's DFL opponent, Mike Obermueller, welcomed the attention.
“This news confirms what we’ve been hearing more and more of each day: folks in the second district are tired of John Kline, and they’re ready to kick him out office. People are fired up and are organizing across the district to remove him from a seat he’s become too comfortable in.
“From willingly shutting down the government as a political stunt, to holding up Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation, to trying to raise interest rates on student loans, Kline has proved again and again that he does not truly represent our neighbors in this district.
“We’re glad that the low-profile Kline is beginning to receive the attention he deserves for his actions. It’s a boost to everyone who has worked so hard on our campaign to know Kline is starting to be seen for the Tea Party congressman he is.
“Our momentum is building every day. And even with this attention, our efforts won’t change. We’re continuing to build our campaign on the strength of the grassroots organizing we know it will take to win this race.”
Kline's spokesman, Troy Young, dismissed Maher's contest. He also criticized Obermueller for embracing it.
“Minnesotans are tired of sleazy and slimy politics, but DFL candidate Mike Obermueller certainly isn’t. Maher once saluted 9/11 terrorists and called our troops ‘cowardly,’ he repeatedly has degraded Christians and calls them ‘schizophrenic,’ and he repugnantly compared special-needs children to ‘dogs,’ yet Mike Obermueller promotes this behavior essentially naming Maher as his campaign manager.”
This year's contest is a rematch. Kline defeated Obermueller by eight percentage points in 2012. Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District includes the southern Twin Cities suburbs and exurbs.
Here's Maher's announcement (Note: The video includes some graphic language):