Former WWE Wrestler Running for Office in Texas
A former professional wrestler who has been backed by Donald Trump is making his third bid for public office — this time in Texas.
Dan Rodimer filed to run for a vacant seat in Texas' 6th Congressional District on Wednesday, according to the Texas Tribune. Rodimer, 42, lost his last race in Nevada in November and previously fell short in a 2018 state Senate election there.
Politico and the Tribune report that Rodimer is now one of 23 candidates running for Texas' open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has been vacant since Rep. Ron Wright died last month while in the hospital with COVID-19.
"I'm running because we need to fight to keep our constitutional-friendly states," Rodimer's campaign website says. "We need fighters in Texas, and that's what I'm coming here for."
Politico reports that Rodimer decided to file for the special election after being encouraged by Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz and members of former President Trump's family, though he would not confirm so with the outlet.
(Rodimer did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.)
Outside of politics, Rodimer is most well-known for a brief stint with the WWE in the early 2000s.
After playing college football at the University of South Florida and a semi-professional arena team in Tampa Bay, Rodimer was a contestant on WWE's Tough Enough reality competition show in 2004. He did not win, but he was offered a contract to join the company's developmental — or minor league — wrestling organization.
Rodimer's campaign touts a photo of him holding the WWE's "United States Championship" belt, despite having never won the title. There's no indication or records that show he ever fought for the championship. Rodimer left the WWE after a year.
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Rodimer's campaign says in 2013 he went on to graduate from Ave Maria Law school, a small private Catholic school in Florida. While a student there, Rodimer "helped found a children's organization that helps underprivileged children celebrate Christmas," according to his campaign.
But Rodimer had darker episodes around that time, according to the Associated Press.
Citing police records, the AP reported that Rodimer was accused of assault three times between 2010 and 2013 for allegedly "punching or throwing someone to the ground in disputes at nightclubs and restaurants."
In one altercation, he was arrested for battery after an incident at a South Florida Waffle House, according to the AP. He pleaded guilty to the charge, served a six-week anger management course and expressed regret over the incident. (It was not known if Rodimer was charged in the other two instances.)
Last year, the AP reported that according to police records Rodimer was the subject of two 911 calls from 2018 in connection with domestic disputes over stolen money, jewelry and guns. The domestic issue was between Rodimer and his then-girlfriend, Sarah Duffy, who is mother to their six children and now his wife.
Rodimer and Duffy told police they had an argument, but nothing physical occurred, according to the AP. No charges were filed.
Rodimer, who refers to himself by his wrestling nickname "Big Dan Rodimer" in campaign materials, was criticized as unfit to hold office by his Democratic rival, Rep. Susie Lee, last fall.
"Dangerous Dan Rodimer has proven he is not that leader," Lee's spokesperson said after the AP reported on the 911 calls. Rodimer lost to Lee, 54, by about 13,000 votes and later contested the election in court, where a judge threw out a request to rerun the election, The Nevada Independent reported.
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Rodimer is vying for the vacant Texas congressional seat alongside Rep. Wright's widow, Susan Wright.
In total, 11 Republicans, 10 Democratic candidates one independent and one Libertarian are running in the May 1 special election.
According to Politico, the open election means a single candidate will need to earn more than 50 percent of the vote to win or it will move to a run-off, which would be scheduled for later this year.