Second District Republicans drawn to Donald Trump's brash style, sarcastic tone, and penchant for insult have a workable doppelganger in the form of Jason Lewis, the party's endorsed candidate.
But what if you want all the smarmy, negative stuff, without any of that barely accessible charm?
Meet Matt Erickson.
A few months ago, City Pages wrote about Erickson's strange appearance on the TPT Almanac show, where, as a local avatar of the Trump campaign, he talked at length about... the fact that he had actually bet his money on Trump winning. It was weird.
Far more troubling, though, were a slew of Facebook posts that saw Erickson using crude memes to express his feelings about presidential politics. These were exclusively pro-Trump, but often came at the expense of other people in truly offensive ways.
One post depicted Donald Trump having sex with the wife of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Another saw Trump, as protagonist, about to reenact a scene from The Walking Dead, which would see the businessman-turned-candidate shoot and kill President Barack Obama.
There were plenty of other weird things about white people, women, immigrants, and refugees. For some reason, Erickson decided to delete many of those posts after the City Pages story appeared.
Here, for posterity, is a meme he posted about U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, whom some Trump fans had rumored was living a secretly gay lifestyle.
So, yeah, Erickson seems like a dirtbag. And in a year like this, what better place for a dirtbag than an election ballot?
On Tuesday, the last day of the candidate filing period, Erickson registered to run in the Second Congressional District, where GOP U.S. Rep. John Kline's retirement is leaving an open seat. Though Lewis scored the party's endorsement, two other Republican candidates — former state senator John Howe, and businesswoman Darlene Miller — had already said they would challenge Lewis in a primary.
The addition of Erickson makes the primary election a four-way contest. And much, much weirder.
Here, just watch Erickson's campaign announcement speech, via the Uptake. It's not easy to watch — unless you're really into those photos of political protesters going out into the street and setting themselves on fire.
By comparison, Jason Lewis and Donald Trump look like measured, polished politicians. Consider the bar lowered.
Erickson's campaign website is pretty freaky too. His biographical page starts with a story that is, quite literally, lifted from the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino.
Matthew Erickson is always one for a fight. In September 2004, like a scene out of Gran Torino, the 17 year-old heard a honk outside his home. Five young Hmong men had broken the window on his Ford pick-up. Without a second thought he raced out the door in stocking feet, unarmed, and chased them down the block. After trading blows, the police arrived to help subdue the perpetrators before they could get away. Matthew’s brother called the cops while bringing up the rear. The thieves were caught with the stolen property of a dozen other neighborhood vehicles. They had been terrorizing the city in this way all summer.
There is always a man who is hot for a fight and, ladies and gentleman, Matthew David Erickson is that man.
As if the point weren't explicit enough, he also quotes a Clint Eastwood line from the film. That line is, "Yeah, I blow a hole in your face. Then I go in the house and I sleep like a baby."
Erickson goes on to say that he's the only military veteran in the race, and the only one to "endorse Donald J. Trump, both now that it is safe and ever since June 2015, when Trump announced his bid."
Then there's this:
"Mr. Erickson is not bashful about his 152 IQ and graduating St. Cloud State University in three years, paying his own way with only $13,000 in debt."
Right. At present, this unabashed genius is a "sales consultant" and the "owner/founder" behind Minnesota Snow Angels, a "snow management service," an industry commonly referred to as "a guy with a snowblower."
Matt Erickson is either America's worst Congressional candidate or its greatest performance artist. Either way, we cannot stop watching, cringing, laughing, and crying.
Run, Matt, run.