As you’re reading this, odds are a Democratic operative in Michigan or Washington, D.C., is listening to Kid Rock’s gravelly voice—rapping, shrieking or crowing, depending on the song—and meticulously cataloguing every single offensive syllable. The renegade musician and prospective candidate for U.S. Senate is an opposition-researcher’s dream come true: For more than two decades, Robert Ritchie—or Bobby, as he asks people to call him—has written and performed provocative records about, among other things, extravagant drug use, excessive drinking and sexual exploits with prostitutes, strippers and Hollywood starlets. These lyrics are far from hollow. Kid Rock’s hard-partying image is central to his popularity and has been exhaustively documented in media accounts over the years. Political opponents will be digging through more than just his albums, too: There’s the sex tape he starred in, the arrest following a Waffle House brawl, the no-contest plea to charges he assaulted a deejay at a Nashville strip club, the messy divorce from Pamela Anderson. If that weren’t enough, he has offered other forms of ammunition to potential foes in interviews over the years, such as when he told Rolling Stone of his distaste for Beyoncé (“I like skinny white chicks with big tits”) and gave the New Yorker his stance on same-sex marriage (“I don’t give a fuck if gay people get married. I don’t love anybody who acts like a fuckin’ faggot”).
Because of his manifest rebelliousness—the offensive language, the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle, the middle finger to polite company—Kid Rock’s tweet last week announcing that he is considering a campaign for U.S. Senate in Michigan was met with predictable contempt from the political class. How dare the foul-mouthed, long-haired, wifebeater-wearing, Jim Beam-swigging, self-described redneck suggest he belongs in the world’s greatest deliberative body? Moreover, critics had immediate cause to call his bluff: The website he tweeted out, www.kidrockforsenate.com, links to a merchandise store hosted by Warner Bros. Records, and Ritchie, who’s gearing up for a fall tour, also just happened to release two new singles from his forthcoming album. Consensus formed at warp speed in the Acela corridor that it’s a money-making publicity stunt; that Kid Rock for Senate should not be taken seriously.