As a congressional candidate last year in Nevada, Dan Rodimer pitched himself as “a small business man, a family man, living in the suburbs.”
Now as a candidate for the US House of Representatives in Texas, gone is the suburban family guy in a transformation impossible to overlook. Rodimer is now pitching himself as a cowboy hat-wearing bull-rider who speaks with a Southern drawl.
“Texas!” Rodimer says in a recent ad. “Send Big Dan to Congress. I know how to handle Nancy Pelosi and stop her bullsh*t.”
The New Jersey native’s latest persona is being panned by some as phony, including by one of his Democratic opponents, who knocked him for using a body double to ride a bull in his campaign video. But Rodimer – who once worked as a home builder in Houston, according to his campaign website, and had a stint in professional wrestling before running for office – has pushed back.
In an interview with CNN on Monday, Rodimer responded to the criticism, saying: “You know, we have an old saying here in Texas – ‘I may not have been born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.’ And that’s why we came back.”
“In regards to my voice, well, as you can hear right now, it’s gone. It’s been gone for the past three weeks,” he added. “And between the two videos that they put back-to-back, you know if you look at them, they were selectively edited. If you watch the whole thing, you’re going to hear my voice it’s just like it is right now.”
Rodimer lost his Nevada race last November, and has since moved his family over 1,000 miles to the Dallas area. He is one of more than 20 candidates running in the May special election to fill the seat of Texas Rep. Ron Wright, who passed away in February after being diagnosed with Covid-19. Wright’s widow, Susan, is also running for the seat.
Rodimer has also faced criticism from some Republicans in Congress.
“Fake Texan makes fake video of fake bull ride. We already have enough phonies in congress,” Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted Friday. “Texas shouldn’t import its congressmen. Big Dan is all hat, no cattle.”
Speaking to CNN on Monday, Rodimer admitted for the first time that the campaign did use a body double for parts of the bull ride segment of the ad. The ad never shows the rider’s face, and the boots and vest appear slightly different than what Rodimer is wearing in the video.
“I actually stayed on for 11 seconds and the only reason I was able to get off – well, unfortunately my hand was stuck, so I couldn’t get off sooner – we didn’t get the full filming of it, and, yeah, we had other people jump in to be body doubles,” he said.
This is not the first time Rodimer has stirred controversy. During his 2020 campaign, the father of six faced questions of past physical assault allegations. His now-wife also released a campaign ad explaining 911 calls she made against him in 2018 before they were married alleging he stole money, jewelry and guns from her.
In prior campaign videos, Rodimer says that the charges from his single arrest, while in college, “have now been dismissed,” and his wife Sarah asserts that “what happened between Dan and I was a verbal argument – plain and simple. Dan has never laid a hand on me, not then or ever.”
Rodimer denied the past physical assault allegations and the allegations made in those 911 calls by his now-wife to CNN on Monday.
Election Day in the special election is on May 1, when Democrats and Republicans run on the same ballot. If no one receives 50% of the vote, the election will head to a runoff between the top two candidates, which would be held later in May.