When Dell Schanze leapt from the Astoria Column in Astoria, Ore., and floated down in a paraglider, I declared him a "badass." Since then, he's been arraigned on criminal charges for his stunt, and the video of his column descent has been picked up by several media outlets.
But who is Dell Schanze? He may be unfamiliar to Pacific Northwesterners (as he was to me), but folks in Utah know him well.
Turns out that Schanze, aka "Superdell," has twice run for governor of Utah as a Libertarian and Republican and once run for mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah.
His platform has included promises to make cars run on water, restore Christian "righteousness" to the state, and, let's not forget, to secede from the nation.
Here's an example of one of the robocalls he sent out during the 2008 campaign in which he ran against former Utah Governor and current presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.
And here's a segment from Schanze's blog that talks about some of his goals should he be elected.
The very best way to help the economy is through righteousness. How can we allow 4000-5000 abortions per year, ban God from schools and government buildings, enslave the people of Utah through communist federal programs and then expect to prosper??? All the oil we need is right here in Utah. All the money we need to explode the economy is right here in Utah but being taken and wasted by the federal government. We need to cut ties to ObamaNation. We cannot take part in or sit idly by and do nothing about ObamaNation and expect to prosper. It just doesn't work that way. If elected I will do everything possible to restore our government to the way God intended it to be. I will do everything possible to end all federal income tax and communist programs. Utah will work towards freedom and prosperity the way the majority of Utahans truly believe in.
Schanze is also no stranger to run-ins with the law. He was charged criminally once for pulling a gun on residents after they complained that he was driving his black Jaguar too fast through the neighborhood. He was also charged separately for a different paraglider stunt.
Schanze also ran the now-defunct company Totally Awesome Computers, and recorded ridiculously homophobic commercials (albeit which were banned) like this one.
So yes, while jumping off the Astoria Column is indeed badass. Blatant homophobia and extremist right-wing ignorance is not.
Perhaps what's most scary is that 3 percent of Utah residents actually voted for him.