In most Republican states, marketing yourself as a "hip-hop candidate" and making a Tyler, the Creator track your campaign song wouldn't be a good campaign strategy. But in Wyoming, the only Democrat who volunteered to run is Richard Grayson, a 63-year-old Arizona resident and self-proclaimed "hip-hop candidate."
Grayson, a political activist, satirist and on-and-off college professor, has been running destined-to-fail campaigns for years. In 1984 he ran as a Democrat against Ronald Reagan and asked the president's first wife, Jane Wyman, to be his running mate "because she has experience dumping Reagan," People reported at the time. In 2004 he wrote a daily diary for McSweeney's about his experience running as the only Democrat in Florida's 4th Congressional District against Rep. Ander Crenshaw. Crenshaw is still in office.
This time around Grayson is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis, and recently filed his campaign committee PPLZ 4 GRAYSON CREW. When Business Insider asked about the name, he explained in an email Friday that he picked the committee name "cuz I'm a hip-hop candidate, I guess," adding, "It's partly a homage to 2 Live Crew, whose 1990-91 fight against obscenity charges in Miami both turned me on to music I hadn't considered as a 40ish baby boomer and inspired me to go to law school." (In 1990 their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be was legally declared obscene for being "an appeal to 'dirty' thoughts and the loins," in a ruling that was later overturned.)
Grayson is aware of how unlikely this all is. "It is not within the realm of possibility," he told Wyoming's Tribune Eagle. He's not taking campaign donations because it would be a waste of money. The point is to make sure someone's running. "I think it's important that two sides are represented," he said. "It might sound kind of corny, but I don't think it's good to have elections where someone is not opposed. That smacks of elections of dictators like Saddam Hussein in Iraq." The head of the state's Democratic party, Robin Van Ausdall, is pretty unimpressed. "I am not thrilled with it," she said of his candidacy last month.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.