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Republican candidate under attack for being a role-player

Role-playing is once again in the spotlight thanks to a conservative Republican from Alachua, FL, Jake Rush. Rush, a 35-year-old attorney and former sheriff's deputy, is challenging Tea Party Representative Ted Yoho in Florida's 3rd Congressional District. Peter Schorsch at SaintPetersBlog outed Rush on April 1 as a gamer, including the characters he role-played as part of the Camarilla. Schorsch takes pains to show that the kind of role-playing Rush participated in is not "kids stuff" that takes place in their "mom's basement":

Conservative Republican from Alachua, FL, Jake Rush, in and out of costume.
Jake Rush

Rush, as a member of the “Kindred of Gainesville,” is not some teenager playing Dungeons and Dragons in his mom’s basement. This is a game for adults, with adult themes. The CD 3 hopeful remained for years as a mid-level participant, active as late as last year. Rush reached the level of “Regional Storyteller,” and was listed as a founding member of the Gainesville “Cam chapter,” according to the advanced and intricate wiki site devoted to followers of the Camarilla world.

LARPers and tabletop gamers know the Mind's Eye Society as a role-playing community:

Mind’s Eye Society, also known as MES, is at its core a community of role-players who come together to play games and give back to their communities in the United States of America. Mind’s Eye Society is the name of the United States National Organization, a part of a global community of role-players who share a common setting and universe...In MES, we play both Classic World of Darkness and the New World of Darkness games in either Table-Top or Live-Action format, and sometimes both. In Classic World of Darkness, we play Vampire the Masquerade with two venues, Cam/Anarch and Sabbat. A resurgence of the Werewolf the Apocalypse venue is planned for 2013 as well. In New World of Darkness, we play Changeling the Lost, Geist the Sin Eaters, Mage the Awakening, Vampire the Requiem and Werewolf the Forsaken.

Schorsch then proceeds to trot out all the pictures that Rush deleted as part of his participation in the Camarilla Wiki Project:

Images that remained under the attorney’s name range between the utterly childish and truly unsettling — especially for someone wanting to be a serious “law and order” GOP congressional candidate who leans to the right of the Tea Party. For example, images not erased — unlike one deleted photo uploaded in 2009 titled “Put on my Rape Face” — illustrate a disturbing spectrum, ranging from the silly and mild to unsettling portrayals of bizarre, ritualistic scenes of the occult, book burnings — even a succubus.

In a move that echoes the attack on state magistrate Clark Peterson, Ohio Republican congressional candidate Richard Iott, and Democratic senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz , the subject's gaming history was used to smear the candidate's integrity in a government role. Rush responded:

As a straight shooter, yes, I play and have played video games, role playing games, board games, Yahtzee, Clue, and I have acted in dozens of theatre productions. My undergraduate degree is in the classics, and I have been raised with a deep appreciation for theatre, costumes and art. All my life, I’ve been blessed with a vivid imagination from playing George Washington in elementary school to dressing up as a super hero last Halloween for trick or treaters. Any cursory review of the Internet will show that I have played heroes and villains. I have never hid nor shied away from disclosing my hobby activities. When I was hired at the Sheriff’s office, I fully disclosed my gaming and theatre background on the application, and these hobbies posed absolutely no problem or raised any flags.

Rush goes on to explain how role-playing games helped him in his profession:

In fact, when applying for undercover work, these hobbies were considered an advantage, so much so my shift lieutenant nicknamed me ‘Shakespeare’. I have undergone no less than three background checks in my professional career: when I applied at the Sheriff’s office, when I applied to the Florida Bar, and when I applied to join the Sheriff’s office again as a reserve officer.

Rush concluded by defending the moral character of role-playing:

I have always been found to be of high moral character and fitness. As a practicing Christian, I am deeply offended that the opposing campaign and their supporters would take a gaming and theatre hobby and mischaracterize it. The very definition of acting is expressing ideas and thoughts that are not your own, just like I don’t believe I am MacBeth, which I have played, I am none of the characters. The opposition should be ashamed with their game playing; this is yet another example of the buffoonery that always follows Ted Yoho...Bottom line - There is nothing wrong with being a gamer. It’s kinda nerdy, but North Central Florida deserves a legitimate debate on the issues instead of Ted Yoho’s usual sideshow distractions.

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