It’s April Fools Day, so I did a double take on this one before reporting, but it’s also news out of Florida, so this shouldn’t be a shock at all. Jacob (Jake) A. Rush, a 35-year-old attorney and former sheriff’s deputy is running for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, the Gainesville area. He’s hoping to unseat Representative Ted Yoho, a first-term Tea Party member, in the Republican primary.
While Rush, in his announcement, touted his Constitutional conservative credentials, even with his hand on a Bible in his announcement video, what he didn’t mention is his time as “Chazz Darling” among other persona during his time as a member of the Mind’s Eye Society, you might know them as Vampire/Werewolf/Changeling/Mage LARPers. Larping, Live Action Role Playing, takes the table top game experience and has members act out the story through real actions such as actual sword fights (with foam swords) and play acting. Think of it as a live story that’s made up on the go.
Vampire became a popular roleplaying game when it launched in 1991 by White Wolf Publishing, and has since lived on as a popular LARPing choice with events being held regularly throughout the country. Rush was active in this as of last year and is a founding member and “main staff member” of the Gainesville chapter. The chapter’s name is the “Covenant of the Poisoned Absinthe.” Rush has done his best to scrub online evidence of his past, but nothing ever really goes away on the internet leading to numerous news sites dredging up photos of him in his various characters as well as throwing in more incendiary (to conservatives) imagery.
Though some of Rush’s writing is disturbing (including stories about rape and drugs), Florida news articles have wasted no time painting the game as part of the “occult,” “Satan,” and “witchcraft,” mimicking the moral panic of Dungeons & Dragons decades ago.
While Rush hasn’t responded to various media inquiries, his father did equating the hobby with dressing up for Halloween. Since the initial stories hinted that they found out about Rush’s history through anonymous tips, it’s likely either attacks from his opponents, or someone with personal issues with Rush. The campaign said they would issue a statement, but haven’t yet done so as of this article.
While I’ll admit his writings are a bit over the top, even for Vampire LARPing, should his extracurricular activity be held against him? Sound off below with your thoughts.