By David Villano
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By Allie Conti
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By Frank Owen
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Bobbie Bean, the would-be U.S. senator from Florida, glares at the camera and hefts a huge wooden mallet. "You vote for me," he says, "and I got a way to, uh, loosen up the Congress."
Sound like your kind of politician? You're in luck, because Bean is not only listed on the absentee ballots that just landed in Florida mailboxes last week, but also he's got prime real estate well above Gov. Charlie Crist.
Crist's decision to break with the GOP and run for Senate as an independent means he's listed ninth, buried below emissaries from the farthest fringes of democracy who each ponied up $10,000 to get on the ballot.
The governor is nestled among a man pledging to legalize sex with porcupines, another hoping to draft inmates to fight in Afghanistan, and a third who believes the federal government is illegal. "It's an issue, obviously," Crist told the Miami Herald. Um, yes.
Take Bruce Ray Riggs, listed three spots above Crist. On his campaign site, dirtyunclesam.com, the Crystal River native wears an American flag shirt and rails against the 14th Amendment. The federal government, he explains, is an illusion: "They might just be actors," he speculates.
Or perhaps Lewis J. Armstrong is more your cup of tea. The Jacksonville contractor believes he can solve urban crime and the war in Afghanistan in one fell swoop: Draft inmates to fight.
"In Vietnam, they told 'em: 'Either you goin' to jail or you goin' to war,'" he tells Riptide. "Hell, why can't we put them on the border with Mexico too?"
Bean, however, is stealing the show among the fringesters.
A dyslexic melon farmer and onetime weightlifting champ with shaggy hair and a bolo tie, he decided to get into politics after sheriff's deputies pulled him from his house at midnight, tore off his underwear, and laughed at him in front of his family. So, at least, says his website.
His pledges: To erase "useless" laws, such as the prohibition of sex with porcupines, a ban on "kissing your wife's breasts," and a rule against men wearing strapless gowns.
Bean didn't return our call, but unlike most of the candidates above Crist, he has actually raised $10,399.
In other words, Florida's porcupines might want to watch their asses.